Training Course On Mango Quality Assurance In The Field And The Packing House

On August 24th and 25th, 2023, the Green Innovation Centre (GIC) Viet Nam project, in collaboration with Fresh Studio Innovations Asia Co., Ltd., and Bureau Veritas Vietnam, organized a two-day training course in Cao Lanh City, Dong Thap Province, on mango quality assurance in both the field and the packing house.

The training was attended by 40 participants, including leaders of cooperatives and companies and officials from the Plant Production and Crop Protection Departments, Agriculture Extension Centers, and Agriculture Service Centers, from six provinces of An Giang, Can Tho, Dong Thap, Hau Giang, Kien Giang, and Soc Trang.

Consumer concerns about the quality, safety, and hygiene of agricultural products have made food quality a top priority in the food supply system. To maintain quality, a consistent quality assurance process is required, from the production stage in the field to the packing house, through a system of traceability and farmer management. This is especially relevant for fruits, such as mango, when cooperatives and companies want to enter the international market and gain more value in the domestic market.

The purpose of the training was to enhance the participants’ ability to manage the mango supply and operate the packing house to maintain high-quality mango for both domestic and international markets. The course covered standards from basic (food safety, VietGAP) to advanced (Global G.A.P, organic) for quality assurance in the fields and HACCP for quality assurance in the packing house.

The training was intensive, combining presentations, group discussions, and field trips to mango orchards and packhouses. After the trips, the participants presented their observations and suggestions to improve current practices for better compliance with the standards.

Minh, leader of Long Binh Agricultural Cooperative, shared, “The course brings valuable knowledge and broadens my horizon. Through group discussions and field trips, I can build more connections, learn from others’ experiences, and have a deeper understanding of VietGAP.

The training is one of the activities of the Strengthening the Mango Value Chain in the Mekong Delta, a component under the GIC Viet Nam project that aims to enable stakeholders throughout the value chain to successfully implement identified innovations to enhance their business in terms of sustainability, climate change resilience, and profitability.

As part of this component, specific trainings were organized for key staff of cooperatives, companies, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, and other actors in the mango value chain on key subjects, including production, harvesting, packing, post-harvest management, quality assurance, sales, marketing, and management.

The GIC Viet Nam project is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

GIC project for Mango development was presented by Fresh Studio at Mango Festival 2023

The Mango Festival 2023, held in Cao Lanh, Dong Thap from April 28th to May 1st, was a grand success, attracting over 150,000 visitors from both inside and outside the province.

Mango Festival 2023 in Dong Thap

The event was a bustling hub of activity, with various businesses showcasing their involvement with mangoes, ranging from planting and pest control to packaging and innovative uses. To further entice visitors, competitions such as drawing, storytelling, fruit styling, and culinary contests were held, adding to the festival’s energy and vibrancy. 

Among the participants was Fresh Studio, which presented a portion of the Green Innovation Center Vietnam for Agriculture and Food Sector (GIC) project in collaboration with the GAP Cu Lao Gieng cooperative. The booth showcased the mangoes of the cooperative, highlighting the effects of the hot water treatment and de-sapping technology, and the solar-dried mangoes. Visitors were treated to the flavorsome solar-dried mangoes and the fresh mangoes, which were a testament to the quality of the produce.

Fresh Studio also had the opportunity to present the GIC project to the audience during a conference on April 30th, where even the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development was in attendance. The conference mainly focused on the latest mango farming techniques and post-harvest mango preservation. The event was interactive, with attendees actively participating in the conference. Fresh Studio’s participation in the Mango Festival was also covered in Doanh Nghiep Tiep Thi and the Evening News of Dong Thap television, amplifying the project’s reach. 

The Mango Festival served as a platform for the GIC project and the GAP Cu Lao Gieng cooperative to receive recognition from visitors and businesses. The event was a significant success, and Fresh Studio would like to express its sincere gratitude to the Vice Chairman of Dong Thap Province People’s Committee for organizing the Mango Festival and everyone involved in making the event possible. 

Value Chain Development Training – An Overview Of Market Development Approaches

After a successful first training session in August 2021, the Mango Business School continued to welcome the participants of Cooperatives, Companies, and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to analyze the mango market as well as discuss ways to utilize marketing tactics in exploring new markets and approaching new clients.

The training focused on 4 main activities, including (1) an overview of domestic and international mango markets; (2) an introduction to the importance and how to set up the marketing strategy; (3) a discussion panel with the participant of Hoang Phat and Central Group representatives on Marketing tactics and quality control; (4) Group assignment on analyzing different mango value chains.

The panel discussion was the spotlight of the morning section thanks to the honest sharing from both representatives of companies on current challenges related to B2B communication and the quality of mangoes.

The first 2 courses on Value Chain Development training were the foundations of upcoming sessions of Mango Business School aiming to enable stakeholders throughout the value chain to successfully implement identified innovations to enhance their business in terms of sustainability, climate change resilience, and profitability.

Mango Business School officially start the first training on Value Chain Development

Mango Business School is an initiative of “Strengthening The Mango Value Chain In The Mekong Delta” – a component of the GIC Viet Nam aims to enable stakeholders throughout the value chain to successfully implement identified innovations to enhance their business in terms of sustainability, climate change resilience and profitability.

The purpose of Mango Business School is to increase the knowledge capacity of key staffs of cooperatives, companies, Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, and other actors in the mango value chain on key subjects including production, harvesting, packing, post-harvest management, quality assurance, sales, marketing, and management.

On 26 July 2022, the first training of Mango Business School was organized in Cao Lanh city, Dong Thap province with the participant of 43 trainees coming from Cooperatives, Companies and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The participants of the 1st training of Mango Business School

The full-day training provided trainees with informative approaches to value chain development in the Vietnam context. This introduction course provided a solid basis to start or further develop the mango value chains by discussing the 4 main topics: 

  1. What is value chain?
  2. Introduction to value chain thinking
  3. Mapping of the value chain
  4. Value chain analysis

The Value Chain is a business-oriented approach that aims to capture the best value at all stages of production, processing, and trading from farmers to consumers. The value chain approach can provide a holistic view of the production process, from raw materials to final consumption. This allows learners to identify areas for improvements in product and information flows via strategic alliances and networks, as well as relationship management. With this approach, producers can improve their market access while buyers access more reliable and improved raw materials.

Trainees are required to map the basic value chain based on their assigned role in the mango production process

The value chain approach can help government officials identify bottlenecks in the production process and which policies are needed to address these bottlenecks. The purpose of the training is to spark the understanding of the value chain approach and its importance as well as explain the principles and scope of the value chain and examine the priority areas for value chain development.

Group discussion on the value chain analysis

The training will carry out the 2nd part of Value Chain Development in September 2022 which will focus on getting to know Rapid Diagnostic Appraisal (RDA); how to apply these tools to specific cases; and ways of translating the value chain analysis into value chain development.

Gia Đình Hà Lan potato brand launched in major supermarket, wholesale markets and canteens in Vietnam.

The successful launch of Gia Dinh Ha Lan brand, meaning “born in the Netherlands, grown in Vietnam”  bring  the introduction of Dutch potato varieties in Vietnam to the next level.

Learn more about our brand values and products, visit: https://giadinhhalan.com/

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After the successful registration of Rosagold  and Markies as part of the FDOV project: “Growing out of poverty with potato”, Vietnamese farmers can now increase their income from better yield and sale.  Vietnamese consumers can now access and enjoy potato varieties that meet their taste profile and with better quality in major supermarkets including AEON, Big C, CoopMart and MegaMart in Ha Noi, Hai Phong and Quang Ninh cities. A value chain has been set up among farmers, traders and retailers who collaborate and make sure potatoes under Gia Dinh Ha Lan brand are consistently available and accessible to Vietnamese consumers.

Investigating the presence of branded fresh produce in HCMC supermarkets

Walk down the supermarket aisle and you will find shelves full of products with familiar logos such as Lays, Dannon, and Coke, but look around the fruit and vegetable section and how many familiar brands do you see? Fresh Studio dug deeper into the presence of local fresh produce brands in one of Vietnam’s largest modern retail markets, Ho Chi Minh City, where surveys of 82 supermarkets and hypermarkets were conducted. The study encounters a fragmented market where the presence of product branding depends strongly on both the type of product and the store where it is sold.  

Can traders and producers of fresh food products break out of the commodity trap and differentiate their products from the rest of the market?  Are they even trying? To gain a better understanding of how fresh fruit and vegetable producers, traders and the retailers are selling their products in Ho Chi Minh City’s supermarkets, Fresh Studio designed and executed a survey to evaluate the presence of branded vs non-branded fresh fruits and vegetables from the domestic market. 

Development of survey methodology

First and foremost, a measurement system including classifications for shelves and products and measuring methods was developed. For instance, as shown in Fig. 1, standard shelves, premium shelves and standing refrigerators are found to be the most common types of display shelves. However, the sizes of similar shelf types vary between different supermarkets and supermarket chains, requiring that a uniform method of measuring be devised that can work regardless of store and shelving configuration. To devise this method, a market observation was conducted prior to the survey.  During this observation phase, proper definitions and classifications of product branding and/or labelling were also developed to ensure that information was captured uniformly across all locations and all products, regardless of who was doing the measuring.

Figure 1: Most common shelves and the frequency of their presence in supermarkets

The quality of data was highly guaranteed by the tablet-based data collection method and a skilful fieldwork team. The survey was programmed on a real-time platform with validation checks that allowed the FS team to monitor the data collection progress and to control the submitted data quality. Enumerators experienced in working in the F&V zones were recruited and trained on the survey methodologies and how to input data in the tablets.

General outcomes and findings

The F&V zones are usually divided into three segments: fruits, vegetables and fresh cut fruits. Each category contains a diverse range of products. Therefore, to gain meaningful insights for the client, we tailor-made our survey content to focus on their top selling products. As a result, the floor space allocation of 24 products across 5,723m2 of total F&V display area in 82 supermarkets was measured during the survey.

Figure 2: Average fruit and vegetable zone display area by supermarket chains (m2)

For each of these products the floor space allocation by product and for branded and non-branded products was measured.  This provided a clear overview of which product types are being sold as branded products, which brands are active in the fresh fruits and vegetables sector and for which products these brands are active.  Insights with respect to the presence of branded vs non-branded by retailer were also gleaned from the study.

Figure 3: Contribution of branded and non-branded products to total F&V zone and each segment display area

Example of a product-specific analysis

Banana is the most popular fresh produce studied with a total display area of over 90m2 and was found in 75 out of 82 supermarkets. It is also one of the most intensively branded products with 15 brands.

Figure 4: Contribution of branded and non-branded banana brands in HCMC supermarkets

Banana producer and supplier companies can track how their products are distributed across SM chains (or at the supermarket store level), their brand share of shelf space and their key competitors’ performance. The results also showed unit price – an indicator to compare one brand’s performance to the others. 

FS Expertise and Services

Fresh Studio is the leading consulting and R&D firm in Southeast Asia focusing on agriculture and food. Our mission is to make our clients successful in the sustainable production and marketing of food.

With a thorough understanding of the retail sector in Vietnam, Fresh Studio develops solutions that provide producers and companies insights into the fresh produce market. Combined with expertise in consumer marketing, our clients gain insight into the current market, existing opportunities, and the factors that drive customers’ decision-making, providing actionable insights that can be used to drive the development of their brand in the retail market. 

Study Tour for HAS Den Bosch students

Fresh Studio had the pleasure to organize a study tour for International Food & Agribusiness students from the HAS University of Applied Sciences Den Bosch of the Netherlands in April 2018. In addition to studying the agriculture sector in Vietnam, the students had also the opportunity to explore Vietnamese history and culture. 

The study tour started in Da Lat, in the central highlands of Vietnam. This area is a major horticulture production center for vegetables and flowers. Due to the mild climate, animal husbandry is also an important sector in this area. During the first 2 days, visits were made to a plant nursery, a modern greenhouse vegetable producer, a local dairy and pig farm, local vegetable farmers, the Fresh Studio R&D farm, a professional vegetable trader and the local wholesale market. The visits allowed students to gain insight into the organization of agriculture production and trade in one of the major horticulture regions of Vietnam.

After the cool central highlands, the program continued in the Mekong Delta starting at the Cu Chi tunnels followed by a visit to the Cu Chi Hightech Agricultural park. Combining study and tourism, the tour introduced the students to an important historical area where they could see an example of Vietnamese ingenuity from the war. Later they saw how innovation has been applied to the aquaculture and fruit sectors, two sectors where Vietnam is a major exporter. Visits to fish and fruit farms were integral to the program. Students also could see how these products are handled further up the supply chain through visits to a professional fruit exporter and Binh Dien whole sale market. During the last day SOFRI (Southern Horticulture Research Institute), Vinacas (Vietnamese cashew nut association) and the Dutch consulate in HCMC were visited before the program was completed with a visit to Nong Lam University where Dr. Võ Thái Dân (Dean of the Faculty of Agronomy) was kind enough to present how agriculture education is organised in Vietnam.

After covering a wide range of agricultural subsectors, different actors in each supply chain, and exchanging information on the roles of governments and educational institutions in agriculture, the students wrapped up their studies in Vietnam. Fresh Studio thanks the students and teachers from the HAS Den Bosch for their enthusiastic participation as well as all of the hosts and facilitators who shared their knowledge and time with the participants.

GAP Sein Ta Lone Mango Value Chain Study in Myanmar

Fresh Studio is commissioned to analyze several reduced-input value chains in several GMS countries including Myanmar.

In the last week of November 2017, Fresh Studio Vietnam and Myanmar conducted a value chain analysis of GAP certified mango in Mandalay and Sagaing region in Myanmar. Besides analysing the mango chain in Myanmar, two other chains are being analysed as part of this assignment: coconut in Vietnam and vegetables in Thailand.

The research is part of a program, which enhances market access for sustainable environmentally friendly and safe agricultural produce using reduced chemicals. A key objective of the program is to identify opportunities and approaches to improve the competitiveness of high value fruit chains.

Only recently Myanmar started to develop GAP standards, mango is one of the first 14 products to receive a GAP standard/guideline/protocol. Myanmar produces a unique mango variety called Sein Ta Lone (‘one diamond’) and has a special flavour well adapted in the Mandalay region, Myanmar. Within the analysis a closer look was given to GAP certified mango growers and particular GAP certified Sein Ta Lone growers.

With a multi-disciplinary team consisting out of 9 members the intensive field work week focused on GAP mango supply chain actors including input suppliers, farmers (GAP and non-GAP), collectors, wholesalers, processors, exporters and policy makers. The teams collected the information through various RDA-techniques: focus group discussions, production calendar, gross margin analysis, in-depth interviews, time-lines etc. Within the teams there was a different focus on stakeholders.

The largest share of mango production is traded as fresh fruit both for export and domestic market; the remainder is mostly processed into dried and frozen mango, puree and leather. The largest portion of mango goes to China through border trade and 1st grade mangoes go to Singapore. For Sein Ta Lone (GAP) it is still challenging to get premium price. The major challenges include weak institutional linkages together with low capacities between and within the different stakeholders along the value chain and the mango-demand outside Myanmar is not requesting a Myanmar GAP-standard.

Vitalizing the Vietnamese potato sector: results year 3

How to achieve food security, improved nutrition and accelerate sustainable agriculture in Vietnam? How to increase the income of small scale farmers in Vietnam? The ‘Growing out of poverty with potato’ project aims to tackle this challenge and sets an example by creating a value chain for a high quality and sustainable potato production system in Vietnam.

Since its launch in 2014, the ‘Growing out of poverty with potato’ project made a great deal of progress and we are pleased to share the results of the 3rd project year. 22 March 2017, the Dutch Vice Minister for Agriculture Ms. Marjolijn Sonnema visited the ‘Growing out of poverty with potato’ project Pro Poor Potato project in Vietnam. During her visit she visited the potato fields in Tu Son district and Bac Ninh where she handed over the official certificates to farmers that successfully completed the three potato training modules introduced by the project and helped to harvest potatoes. These activities and direct discussion with Vietnamese farmers gave her a good impression of the positive impact the project is already having to vitalise the Vietnamese potato sector.

Supply

  • First 2 potato varieties passed phase 1 of the registration process and are now in final registration phase (commercial production of these varieties).
  • Continuation of potato variety trials and registration of 6 more potato varieties.
  • Potato production enhancing equipment, like irrigation systems and machinery to plant and harvest potatoes introduced to potato farmers.
  • 1,691 farmers (of which 72% female) received a training certificate after attending 3 potato training modules regarding potato production.
  • Training of 27 potato production advisors was completed. Potato production advisors will visit contract farmers at least once every two weeks to assist them in optimizing their production performance.

Demand

  • Over 1,000.000 consumers were reached through awareness campaigns in 21 wet markets and 7 supermarkets in Hanoi and HCMC.
  • 400 consumers were interviewed to get more insight in their potato preferences.
  • Food labs: 600 consumers participated in the sensory evaluation of potato varieties.
  • 50 households prepared 4 selected potato varieties at home and provided feedback per potato variety.

Supply chain development

  • 28 field days were organized and attended by 19 traders and over 400 farmers.
  • 875 farmers signed contracts with farmers for table potatoes and 979 contracts signed for processing potato.
  • Over 800,000 kg table potatoes contracted and bought from farmers by traders involved in project.

Policy development

  • Potato policy brief developed and presented to various Vietnamese authorities and the Dutch Vice-Minister of Agriculture Ms. Marjolein Sonnema.
  • Potato policy workshop organized with all project partners, Dutch embassy, Vietnamese authorities and research institutes.
  • For more in-depth information about the progress in year 3 of the ‘Growing out of Poverty’ with potato project and projection to year 4 kindly download the full newsletter of Year 3 below:

Fresh Studio joins GMS agricultural ministers meeting in Siem Reap

On 6 to 8 September Fresh Studio joined the Greater Mekong Subregion Ministers Meeting (GMS AMM2) in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The meeting was sponsored by the GMS Core Agriculture Support Program (CASP) within the Asian Development Bank.

This 3-day event focused on safe and sustainable agriculture value chains, facilitating cross-border trade of agricultural products, exchanging best practices and expanding collaboration among stakeholders.

Agriculture ministers from the six GMS countries – Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam – attended the event and endorsed the GMS SEAP Strategy and Siem Reap Action Plan. A lot of activities were held during the event, including meetings, Policy Forum, public-private sector dialogue and Market exhibition of private companies working on organic and innovative agriculture practices.

The event was divided in 3 days

Day 1: Siem Reap Policy Forum

A policy forum on “Developing safe, sustainable and inclusive agro-based value chains in the GMS” was established. This forum connects government, private sector as well as researchers to discuss about the recommendations to make GMS as a reputable supplier of safe agro-products. During the first day René van Rensen, R&D director Crops, presented about Fresh Studio experience on “Food Safety and Quality Assurance on Fruits and Vegetables”. Rene delivered key messages about the value of Vietnam fruit and vegetable products, food safety issues, market access problem and the importance of having effective measures to promote sales within the region.

Day 2: Development Partners’ Forum and the Public-Private Dialogue and Roundtable

The program of the day was divided into plenary and parallel sections of the open and closed-door meetings. The Development Partners’ Forum updated the progress of the program to all partners whilst discussing the synergies and opportunities for enhancing investment in value chain development. The public and private sectors also discussed about the implemention of the GMS Strategy and Action Plan and mechanisms of public and private collaboration.

Day 3: Second GMS Agriculture Ministers’ Meeting

The Ministers of Agriculture from 6 GMS countries discussed and endorsed the Joint Ministerial Statement.

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