Vietnamese Cakes Take Off Overseas

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SaigonTimes English - 49 month(s) ago 4 readings

When she discovered the Vietnamese living in Europe and North America were crying out for traditional cakes, the owner of Long Uyen Co. in My Tho Industrial Park, Tien Giang Province, made it her business to supply them

Vietnamese Cakes Take Off Overseas

By Duc Khanh

When she discovered the Vietnamese living in Europe and North America were crying out for traditional cakes, the owner of Long Uyen Co. in My Tho Industrial Park, Tien Giang Province, made it her business to supply them

“Long Uyen Co. was founded at the end of 2009, with its main business as a fruit trader and an exporter of farm produce grown in the Mekong Delta. The fact that the company now exports Vietnam’s traditional cakes to European supermarkets is quite by chance,” Tran Thi Hien, the company owner, said.

Hien has family members living overseas. Whenever they came back to Vietnam, they would ask for traditional cakes such as banh tet, banh chung, banh it la gai, banh la dua, banh bo, banh tieu, banh cu cai and banh da lon. They would always complain that a lot of the Vietnamese living overseas had craved these cakes for decades.

With this newfound information and the fact that she had relatives working in supermarkets in these countries, Hien and her husband started shipping cakes to them.

“After researching the market, we found not only the Vietnamese but a lot of other people there would buy Vietnamese traditional cakes,” she said.

The question was, however, how to supply a range of cakes to the supermarkets. She traveled across villages and districts in Tien Giang, Ben Tre and Vinh Long in search for prestigious bakeries and bought cakes for the family to try. Then, she asked everyone to gauge the quality and flavor. “After going through that process many times, I got straight to the point and signed deals with bakery owners. Most of the bakeries operate on a small scale, with profits coming from the labor only,” Hien said.

After the success of her first export contract, Long Uyen Co. decided to export to countries such as Canada, Sweden, Norway and Holland. To meet the standards required, Long Uyen Co. sent people to each bakery to inspect the conditions for food safety and hygiene. The company also invested in a transport system that directly transfers fresh products from bakeries back to the company for packaging, air-vacuuming and freezing at -45 degrees Celsius before sending them in refrigerated containers. These products will stay fresh for years.

Hien said, “Our company signs contracts with prestigious bakeries thus quality and reputation is assured. Because products are made for each order, the quality, hygiene and prestige are our top priorities.”

According to Hien, Westerners are fond of the fatty taste of coconut, so cakes such as banh tet, banh chung and banh la dua exported to this market have to contain extra coconut and the glutinous rice needs to be really sticky. Foreigners are not keen on banh tet or banh chung, which contain meat.

The demand for these cakes is on the rise. On average, each month the company exports four containers to European countries (each weighing 10 tons worth about US$15,000-16,000). The supermarkets in Europe asked Long Uyen Co. for an extra 20 tons last month.

Long Uyen Co. is now preparing materials to produce 30 tons of banh it, banh chung and banh tet for the Lunar New Year in 2011, to fill the orders from supermarkets in Europe and North America.

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