Successful Zespri Event brings joy for young and old reaching over 3,000 visitors

Between the rainy days in Ho Chi Minh City Fresh Studio organized together with its client Zespri a special Consumer Event called ‘Wake Up with Zespri kiwifruit’ in one of the larger shopping malls in the city.

This event was organized to bring an interactive and pervasive Zespri brand experience to participants by entertaining and educative activities. The event reached over 3,000 visitors.

Interactive brand experience

During 1 whole day from 9 to 10 PM visitors of the AEON shopping mall could enjoy games such as basketball, sack jumping and puzzle games. The games were created for (1) entertainment and (2) to educate visitors of every age about the origin and the nutrition of New Zealand kiwi fruit.

The interactive brand experience was furthermore translated into a real-life orchard for visitors to experience, play and learn about how the Zespri kiwi fruit is grown in New Zealand.

Interested to organize a unique, entertaining and educative event for your brand? Contact us for more information!

Online brand activation

A special area was set up where people could take photos (read: selfies) with famous Zespri landmarks such as the New Zealand kiwi orchards and the giant kiwi fruit in Te Puke. Visitors created a buzz about Zespri online by sharing their photos on Facebook using hashtags such as #ZespriVN, #Zesprikiwifruit, #Zesprikiwi.


Besides games and photo areas the daily program included dance teams and several cooking shows on stage where kids were able to cook small dishes for their parents by the helping hand of a professional chef.

With Fresh Studio leading the Vietnamese campaign, the volume growth of Zespri in the Vietnamese market has been impressive. The marketing activities, such as this event, have significantly driven and contributed to the double-digit year-on-year sales growth since 2008.

Are you interested to organize a unique, entertaining and educative event for your company, your brand or any other purpose kindly contact us for more information!

Fresh Academy training on Supply Chain Management and Business Development

The 4th Training of Trainers (ToT) course of Fresh Academy took place at Nong Lam University, Ho Chi Minh city from 6 to 10 June 2016.

The course started with an opening speech from Mr. Toine Hattink, Director of Studies, HAS University of Applied Science, the Netherlands. Compared to the previous courses in Da Lat, which focused on greenhouse cultivation techniques and management, this course focused on supply chain and business management aspects within the horticulture sector.

During the training week, the trainees were not only introduced to the concepts of supply chain management, but also given the chance to visit the biggest wholesale markets for vegetables (Binh Dien) and flowers (Ho Thi Ky) in Ho Chi Minh city. In Long An province, Lavifood was visited to study post-harvest management of fruits and vegetables. During the training course the trainees were required to build business models on different topics by making us of the Business Model Canvas approach. An economic expert from Nong Lam university was invited to act as an investor to assess the feasibility of business models that the trainees developed during the training and presented.

The training week was successful completed and trainees will work further on their business and supply chain assignments as part of their homework. The next training course is planned for November 2016 in Da Lat.

Dutch horticulture technologies successfully tested in Vietnam

As part of the Transition Facility project “Accelerating the development of a modern greenhouse vegetable production sector in Vietnam” hydroponic lettuce production and biological control of pests in greenhouse vegetables are successfully applied at the R&D Farm of Fresh Studio.

Lettuce is a major crop in Lam Dong province and grown year round. The majority of the lettuce is sold in Ho Chi Minh City. In the rainy season the challenge for farmers is to produce good quality lettuce as disease pressure is high. In the dry season availability of sufficient irrigation water is becoming also a challenge as this dry season has shown. A solution for both challenges is to grown lettuce on a hydroponic system (Nutrient Film Technique). This technique has been successfully tested at the R&D Farm of Fresh Studio as part of the Transition Facility project “Accelerating the development of a modern greenhouse vegetable production sector in Vietnam”. With this system farmers are able to harvest up to 14 rounds of lettuce from the same area for the fastest growing lettuce types, greatly increasing productivity per m2. Due to the very hygienic growing conditions, disease pressure is kept at a minimum enabling top quality lettuce to be produced year round.  The closed irrigation system ensures no water is lost. Compared to growing lettuce in the soil, the amount of water needed to produce the same volume of lettuce with the hydroponic production is estimated to be > 75% lower.

Keeping pest under control and ensuring food safety is a challenge in Vietnam as greenhouse vegetables often need to be harvested daily, while the interval to harvest vegetables after applying a crop protection product is several days to over one week. In the Netherlands pest insects are mainly controlled in a biological way through natural enemies. This technique was successfully tested for cucumber and sweet pepper at the R&D Farm of Fresh Studio. Trails for tomato are planned for later in the year. Besides eliminating the need to apply pesticides to keep pest insects under control, the trial results indicate that the average production also increases, due to the more regular harvest. Through this technology food safety can be increased, while farmers can still be competitive with their vegetable selling price. 

Both technologies are demonstrated and shown to local Vietnamese farmers and farmers have started to commercially apply both technologies. A clear sign that the project’s objective, accelerating the development of a modern greenhouse vegetable production sector in Vietnam, is on the right track.

This project is implemented by a consortium consisting of Wageningen University, Rabobank Foundation, Fresh Studio, BVB Substrates, Da Lat University, HAS Hogeschool Den Bosch, Koppert Biological Systems, Rijk Zwaan, Ludvig Svensson, YARA, CMF and Priva and supported by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Fresh Studio trains agricultural SME’s in preparing business/ investment plans

On 7 and 8 April 2016 a team of Fresh Studio consultants existing of local and international agricultural and financial specialists traveled to the Vietnamese city of Tra Vinh in the Mekong Delta, to help local SME’s in the agriculture sector preparing business plans.

The assignment was part of the SNV-IFAD 4P program, whereby SME’s in the agricultural sector in Tra Vinh province can apply for a grant to help fund an investment that will help grow their businesses and contribute to sustainable livelihoods for the rural poor in a changing environment.

The selected companies were active in and had investment proposals focused on, amongst others chili pepper trading, rice trading, hydroponics, poultry/eggs, peanuts, and coconuts.

As most entrepreneurs had little experience in writing formal business plans and making financial models, the workshop started with an introduction to the Business Model Canvas. In this part of the workshop the participants learned about value chains and the concept of building a Business Model Canvas and applied it by making a Business Model Canvas for their own company.

The second day was mostly spent on the financial model. During this session the companies worked closely together with the Fresh Studio consultants on their own financial models. This gave them great insight in the financial viability of their projects and a good understanding of the sensitivity of prices, volumes and costs on their business.

At the end of the workshop the companies stated to have learned a lot and that the training will not only help them to successfully apply for a grant, but also to improve their businesses.

Relocation of Fresh Studio’s head office in Hanoi, Vietnam

Fresh Studio is pleased to announce the relocation of its headquarters in Hanoi. The move to a new location is motivated by our expanding activities and increase of staff. The new office includes a state of the art facility for food products testing among end-consumers, the “Fresh Studio Taste Lab”.

Our new head office address:

2nd and 3rd floor

5B Lane 111, Xuan Dieu Street, Quang An Ward,

Tay Ho District, Hanoi


The building is conveniently located and can be easily reached from different directions: Noi Bai airport, the Hanoi city centre and main urban residential districts of Hanoi. 

The new location, besides modern and spacious office facilities, provides also a professional taste lab equipped with state of the art kitchen technologies. The “Fresh Studio Taste Lab” offers the opportunity to conduct sensory tests with fresh and processed food products among producers, end-consumers and professional users.

With this new facility Fresh Studio offers now a unique R&D service that ranges from production at our R&D farms (2 for vegetables and 1 for aquaculture) up until product testing. Fresh Studio is the only consultancy firm in Vietnam capable of testing food products on both agronomical and market performance.

Please feel welcome to visit the new office. Contact Fresh Studio on +84 (0)4 37591380 for any queries.

Photos of our new head office

Convention: Business opportunities in the Vietnamese agricultural sector

Would you like to do business in Vietnam? Visit the RVO convention on 9 September and connect with Vietnamese buyers from the flower-, fruit and meat sector in the Hague, The Netherlands.

During the convention you will receive information about the opportunities in the Vietnamese market. The convention will finish with a speed date session and a networking reception. The main language during the convention will be English.

Visiting Vietnamese buyers

From 6 – 10 September a group of Vietnamese buyers of agricultural products will visit the Netherlands. They would like to get acquainted with the Dutch food production system and they are actively searching for potential business partners.

The delegation consists of participants from the flower-, fruit and meat sector. The purpose of their mission focuses especially on the quality and food safety of Dutch agricultural produce. During the convention you will have the opportunity to talk extensively with the Vietnamese delegation.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs supports entrepreneurs with ambitions beyond borders. Together with the international-based entrepreneurs the Ministry aims to strengthen the Dutch trade- and investments position abroad. The Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) is responsible for the implementation. organises this event together with the Dutch embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Focus on sectors

During the convention the focus will be on the following sectors:

  • Vegetables and fruit
  • Meat
  • Flowers, plants, bulbs and seeds


Vietnam is an upcoming market with a growing middle-class and spending pattern. There is a growing demand for higher quality food which is guaranteed safe and traceable. The Vietnamese consumer is ready to pay a higher price for this promise. The country is not yet in a position to produce their own safe food. They depend on countries where food safety is already guaranteed, such as the Netherlands.

Visit the RVO Dutch country page to learn more about Vietnam.


3 – 3.30 PM:

Welcome and registration

3.30 – 3.35 PM:

Opening word by mr. Arie Veldhuizen, Agricultural Councel Vietnam and Thailand, moderator

3.35 – 3.55 PM:

Introduction of the Vietnamese market with the focus on the agricultural sector by Ms. Sigrid Wertheim-Heck, Director Marketing and Business Development, Fresh Studio

3.55 – 4.10 PM:

Pitch about the Post-Harvest Network, Ms. Françoise van den Broek

4.10 – 4.25 PM:

Closing words by ms. Sara Knijff, Deputy Director European Agricultural policy and Food security (Europees Landbouwbeleid Voedselzekerheid)

4.25 – 5.30 PM:

Speed dating and network reception

You can register until 4 September at the latest for this convention. Register here

RVO (Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland)
Prinses Beatrixlaan 2
2595 AL The Hague (Den Haag)

The Netherlands

Google Maps

Organising partners:
Dutch embassy Hanoi, Vietnam
Ministry of Foreign affairs
Ministry of Economic Affairs

Read more about the convention at (language: Dutch)

Sigrid Wertheim-Heck on ‘Pro-Poor Potato’ project in Vietnam

95% of Vietnam’s potatoes are grown in the Red River Delta, during the cool weather season when rice cannot be grown. Potato production is an excellent alternative to improve the local food security and increase the income of smallholder farmers. In the Central Highlands potatoes can be produced year-round. Therefore the Growing Out of Poverty with Potato project, managed by Fresh Studio, is located in exactly these areas.

In this FDOV-funded partnership Fresh Studio, PepsiCo, Agrico and Wageningen UR cooperate to establish more sustainable potato production systems in Vietnam. At the same time, the project aims to increase the consumer awareness about the nutritional value of potatoes. PPP Lab’s Marleen Brouwer interviewed Sigrid Wertheim-Heck (director Marketing and Business Development of Fresh Studio) about this inspiring partnership.

What are you currently working on in the project?

At this moment we are working on both the supply side as well as the demand side of potato sector development. On the supply side, the farmers are being introduced to new quality seed potatoes, combined with trainings on crop management and overall capacity development. We are also working on our hardware investment plan to introduce, among others, potato planting and harvesting machinery in the near future. Since most of the farmers in our project are women, we hope that the potato production work will become less labour-intensive and less time-consuming. Women have to combine household tasks with farming, and through machinery we aim to relieve some of the most arduous, physically strenuous farming tasks.

On the demand side, we are working on the adoption of new high quality Dutch potato varieties in the Vietnamese diet. The new high quality varieties aim to provide consumers with a better quality alternative to the current rather limited offer. However, varieties that might be a bit bigger, smoother or have a different colour are not automatically accepted. When we work with farmers we need to assist also the adoption of the distinct produce in the market. Since the demand for potatoes is higher than the supply, outcompeting other providers is not the case.

Lately we have done a baseline study, among 400 consumers in the north of Vietnam and 400 in the South, to learn more about today’s potato consumption and people’s knowledge about the nutritional value of potatoes. We repeated the study during the potato season to correct for potential seasonality bias. We see that consumers in the South have different preferences than in the North. In general potato is valued as a healthy product both in the South and in the North. Still there is an inherited association with potato as a “poor man’s food”. Our project tries to alter this perception by implementing awareness campaigns, both in urban and rural areas. We are even establishing taste labs, which is yet a quite unknown phenomenon in the agricultural sector of Vietnam.

What do you see as the biggest challenge within your project at this stage?

We have to work hard to make this PPP work and to implement all our planned activities, but actually we do not encounter any big issues. In my opinion, the project is doing really well. Important to add: we did not start from scratch when we received the subsidy. This is a major advantage. We are building upon potato research, which we previously conducted. Besides we already know the farmers, because our agronomy team works in the rural areas. Moreover, our relations with local governments and cooperatives are very good.

We have formally kicked off our activities in October 2014, and since then the implementation is progressing as expected. The farmers are enthusiastic about the project, and very willing to participate in the training and variety testing (which includes demonstration farms). Our aim is to include 70% female farmers, which seems feasible given the importance of women in potato production. This first season we have trained 500 farmers, the majority being women, of the totally targeted 2500 farmers.

In your opinion, what are the biggest pitfalls for PPPs in the FDOV subsidy framework?

Starting new projects in new project frameworks is always challenging. The start-up took a while, but it also aided a robust set-up and clear direction, which benefits the project in its operations and secures that ambitions can be met. Changes in personnel of RVO resulted in delays of communication and thus project progress, but currently this is running well. Another challenge is the physical distance between RVO in the Netherlands and the partnership in Vietnam. When developing projects over larger distances, it is sometimes hard to understand the specific local conditions. Lastly, the project has a duration of five years. Defining fixed outcomes, for example in terms of farmer income, might prove to have limited value over five years’ time. Many aspects may influence the outcomes, of which several might be external circumstances beyond control. We deem it important to keep a certain level of flexibility within projects to mitigate unforeseen circumstances, or be able to embrace unexpected beneficial conditions.

Are there subjects that you would like to discuss with other parties involved in PPPs?

All PPPs are run in another way, but I am curious to learn how other practitioners design and implement their projects. Cross-learning is crucial to make all PPPs better, and to improve the FDOV and FDW facilities for the sake of sustainable development. I would like to discuss with others how they do their research, how they train their farmers, but also how they manage their PPPs and how they do monitoring & evaluation. What works, what does not work, what can we do differently?

Is there anything that you would like to share with other PPP practitioners?

At Fresh Studio we have discovered that managing a FDOV PPP is a fulltime job. This is not just a project for on the side. It takes a lot of time and effort to do it right. Furthermore, PPPs have a proven value, but they are never a guarantee for success. It is always a means to get somewhere, and not a goal in itself. In our partnership we are committed to be innovative, and part of the innovation lies in interdisciplinary cooperation. It is important to keep on listening to each other, to truly learn from each other’s views and beliefs. We all come from different backgrounds; farmers, businessmen and researchers all have their own objectives. Therefore it is crucial to continuously manage expectations to make a PPP successful.

More information about the potato project can be found here.

Read the project profile including snapshot information about the partnership


Source: PPP Lab

Publication date: 2015

Transferring knowledge and experience in supply chain management

What supply chain challenges do Southeast Asian Food Ingredient companies face? How to optimise your supply chain management to export successfully to the European market? During a Supply Chain Management workshop Fresh Studio shared knowledge, experience and criteria companies should focus on to improve their supply chain.

Following the successful training courses held in Vietnam in Hanoi and HCMC later last year, Fresh Studio was contracted by the Centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries (CBI), Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands to train Food Ingredients companies in Southeast Asia in Supply Chain Management (SCM). The SCM workshop, a highly practical and interactive training course, was designed to help Food Ingredients Companies to improve their supply chain in order to export successfully to the European market.

The first training was held at the Ministry of Trade in Jakarta, Indonesia in April 2015 with over 40 participants representing CBI companies and Indonesian ministries (Ministry of Trade and Ministry of Industry). The training did not only focus on principles of SCM but also gave the opportunity to analyse and evaluate the supply chain of participating companies. More importantly, concrete action plans were made. Success stories of for example The Fruit Republic, a company exporting Vietnamese fruits to European market, were used to demonstrate the possibility of EU market penetration for small and medium enterprises from Asia.

In June 2015, the second SCM training was conducted at Davao City Chamber of Commerce, the Philippines. Top managers of CBI companies in the Philippines attended the 2-day training workshop. Although business activities and product specialties differ between the Philippines and Indonesia, CBI companies from both countries share common limitations in supply chain management, covering from sourcing, quality assurance, certification and packaging to marketing. This second workshop also achieved the same level of success as the previous ones.

Comments of some participants about the workshop:
“Now I realise that our knowledge on SCM was so limited at the start of this workshop. We have a lot to do when I am back. I learned that all departments in the company need to better coordinate if we want to improve our supply chain and to expand our export to Europe”.

“My knowledge and experience in SCM has improved substantially after the 2-day training course. I will request a meeting with all departments in the company to analyse our SCM issues. For me, the ultimate goal is to make an action plan involving all important actors in the company’s supply chain and to make it a success story”.

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Fresh Studio offers a weekly newsletter with the latest news updates in the Vietnamese agricultural sector focusing on topics in the field of business, food safety, nutrition, gender equality, livelihoods, environment and science & technology. Our newsletter is send every Monday and provided in English.

See an example of our newsletter by clicking the link below.

Dialogue on Food Safety: the importance of traceability and legal enforcement

The Food, Agri and Aqua Business Sector Committee (FAASC) of the European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (EuroCham) organised a dialogue (27th of May 2015) between Government representatives and companies regarding the importance of traceability and legal enforcement for the control of food safety.

Food safety is still an issue in Vietnam and this limits Vietnam in exporting food, agriculture and aquaculture products. Too frequent products are blocked at the border of the importing country due to existence of high levels of certain heavy metals, bacteria, virus, moulds or other prohibited substances in products. This costs money and damages the reputation of Vietnamese products.

Currently various free trade agreements, such as the EU-VN Free Trade Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are being negotiated. For 2015 the export goal for agricultural products is set at 32 billion USD. To reach this goal, it is important that food safety issues will be addressed.

The legal framework exists and the Government takes measures to improve food safety, however it is not enough. There are various ways to achieve the goal of safe food. Traceability and legal enforcement are two of such ways that can support the improvement of food safety.

  • Traceability is important in case of a food safety issue. Companies need to track down the origin of their ingredients, so in the worst-case scenario a product can be recalled. Also, consumers are concerned about food safety and would like to know the source of their purchased products.
  • Legal enforcement is equally important. Existing regulations should be enforced in an efficient and effective way. Currently, violating the rules is in some cases profitable. Fines are (too) low and the risk of being caught is not very high. Various food issues can be avoided by simply enforcing existing regulations.

Actions to improve

  • Companies should improve the food safety situation by introducing and using a traceability system.
  • The Government should check these traceability systems and should enforce existing regulations. Both foreign as local companies should be treated in the same way as the applicable law requires.

The dialogue has brought together representatives of various departments and agencies of the Vietnamese Government representatives of several embassies, international organisations and relevant industry and professional Vietnamese associations. Several keynote speakers were invited to present about product traceability legal enforcement:

Product traceability

  • Jean Jacques Bouflet, Minister Counsellor and Head of the Economics and Trade section of the EU delegation in Vietnam, highlighted the importance of traceability as the cornerstone of reliable and sustainable trade exchanges between counties and referred to a cooperation program between the EU and Vietnam to share the European traceability experience through TRACES (= TRAde Control and Expert System). This is a trans-European network for veterinary health which notifies, certifies and monitors imports, exports and trade of animals and animal products.
  • Nguyen Hung Long, deputy director of the Vietnam Food Administration, presented the current status of traceability in Vietnam.
  • Peter Robson, CEO of DSM Vietnam, and Siebe van Wijk, managing director of Fresh Studio, presented the implementation of their companies in relation to traceability.

Fresh Studio’s managing director, Siebe van Wijk stated:

“Traceability systems are an important tool in controlling food safety, because farmers will realize that a company can, in case food safety violations occur, always trace from which farm a product is originating. But this is just one of the elements which are needed to make Vietnam more successful in exports of agricultural products. This is a task which the private sector can control and implement itself, but one of the larger bottlenecks for successful exports is completely in the hands of the Vietnamese government: market access of Vietnamese products to neighbouring countries. Van Wijk gave the example of the trade balance for fruit between Thailand and Vietnam. While the Thai exports of fruits to Vietnam has a value of US$ 178 mln per year, Vietnam is only exporting about US$ 10 mln. This negative trade balance is caused by the fact that Vietnam is only allowed by Thailand to export dragon fruit, and for vegetables, only sweet potato. This is a very unbalanced situation, as Thai mandarins, rambutans, mangosteens and many other fruits flood the Vietnamese market. Vietnam could export a lot more fruits to Thailand, or other ASEAN countries, but unfortunately little market access has been arranged.”

Making Vietnam successful in fruit exports

  • Vo Ngan Giang of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), presented results on a pilot traceability project for poultry in Ho Chi Minh City.
  • Legal enforcement
  • Nguyen Xuan Duong, Deputy Director General of Animal Husbandry Department, MARD, presented the current performance in relation with checking animal feed additives.
  • Kao Sieu Luc, president of ABC bakery, and Eric Schubert of Lesaffre informed the attendees the motivation to ban products as potassium bromate by companies.

Download all presentations at

After the presentations a lively and interesting discussion took place between representatives of the industry, government officials of the relevant ministries as well as representatives of international organisations.