Reaching lower income consumers with safe and healthy food – Mission possible?

Nearly 50% of Hanoi’s urban population lives on 4 USD or less a day. This group represents a food value of circa 5 million USD/day. Despite their demand for safe and nutritious food, this economy of scale is not yet targeted with fresh food quality improvements.

Food that carries formal food safety certification by government authorities is mainly traded at registered and certified food safety retail outlets, targeting middle and upper income classes. Even though Hanoi’s lower income residents are explicitly demanding for safe and healthy foods, they are generally excluded from these channels.

The exclusion of lower income consumers from more controlled formal food provision systems urges innovative approaches.

The research was funded by BoP Innovation Center and conducted by Fresh Studio in 2013.

Get access by downloading the report below and discover whether it is a “Mission (im)possible” to reach lower income consumers in urban Hanoi with certified safe and healthy food.

+ Reaching lower income groups with safe and healthy food – mission possible? (3 MB)


Source: Fresh Studio

Language: English

Publication date: June 2014

Reputation risk for clean and safe vegetables from Dalat

Dalat is an important region of high-quality vegetable production in Vietnam. The adaption of standardized methods and modern cultivation technologies by farmers in Dalat has led to the successful growth of clean and safe tomatoes, potatoes, and cabbages which are larger than the average size of vegetables. But is bigger always better?

Despite the successful growth of clean and safe vegetables, farmers and traders in Dalat encounter difficulties finding buyers for their production. Most Vietnamese consumers associate unusual large fruit and vegetables with products from China. Consumers are unable to distinguish high-quality vegetables from Dalat over Chinese vegetables, which lead to falsely accusing distributors of selling Chinese products.

This misconception of Vietnamese consumers is caused by the fact that a wide variety of Chinese produce (e.g. carrots, cabbage, potato, garlic, and ginger) is available in larger sizes compared to local produce and their quality and safety is often front-page news.

The suspiciousness of consumers creates a paradox for fresh food production form Dalat; the oversized products, produced by means of standardized methods and modern technology, are sold at lower prices than those of lower quality.

According to experts, the solution to this paradox is that Dalat high-tech produce growers should join forces to introduce these ‘giant’ products to consumers countrywide with the results that consumers will no longer mistake them for Chinese fruits and vegetables. “Growers should frequently launch programs to promote their products. It’s a pity that large Dutch-beef tomatoes are mistaken for Chinese tomatoes,” advised our representative of Fresh Studio in Dalat, adding that this proves that the promoting channels for Dalat produce should further improve.

This advice was supported by agriculture expert Le Huu Phan, who urged Dalat farmers to take immediate action to educate consumers across the country about their high-quality produce. “This should be done soon to prevent the reputation of Dalat vegetables from being damaged”.

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Marion Klaver: Social media and how consumers cope with uncertainties of safe vegetables

HANOI – During my Msc Mangement Economics and Consumers studies at Wageningen University I was given the beautiful chance to be part of the Fresh Studio team in Hanoi as an intern.

Choice for Fresh Studio

Having been abroad only within the European borders, I was looking for an internship outside Europe. From within my network, I heard about Fresh Studio in Vietnam. After reading about the company, the contact was quickly made. Within six months I set foot on Vietnamese soil, a choice which I will never regret. Fresh Studio is a very inspiring company, there is an incredible synergy between creativity, well-considered solutions, and the way diverse disciplines work together.

Internship / thesis 

Throughout this five month period I conducted a study about the role social media plays on how Vietnamese consumers cope with perceived uncertainties on safety of vegetables in Hanoi.
The research focused on the following three main questions:

1. In what way do online social networks play a role in the demand for safety of vegetables by Vietnamese consumers?

2. Which alternative information coping strategies may be used with regard to safety of vegetables in Vietnam?

3. What is the impact of online social networks on other coping strategies with regard to information about safe vegetables in Vietnam.

In order to answer the research questions, 1400 surveys with Vietnamese consumers were carried out at shops which claim to sell safe vegetables. This research has resulted in a Msc thesis for Wageningen University. 

Next to my own project, I had the opportunity to work together with colleagues on different marketing and business development projects. Amongst these, two projects carried out in Hanoi, one a safe vegetable retail census and the other a vegetables project with the Dutch school. All projects have challenged me to move away from the comfort of my study books and theories to put my skills into practice.


Doing an internship overseas involves a bit of a culture shock. Not only did I had to get used to the culture of the country (e.g. bargaining in every shop, crowded streets with motorbikes) but even more I had to adapt to a different culture of working. For example my colleagues saw me as their friend instead of as their colleague. So, after work I did spend a lot of time with them at street canteens and bars. They also showed me many places in Hanoi and took me on motorbike road trips to the North of Vietnam. Seeing many places in Vietnam and also Cambodia, I can say I have explored a bit of the way of living and working in a South East Asian country.

Being abroad offers a fantastic opportunity to broaden your horizon; you will experience a process of development that will make you a better and open-minded person. For me, it was an experience that I am sure I will remember for the rest of my life.Also interesting to read: