Grand launch of Mekostar at Ocean Mart Royal Hanoi

HANOI – Fresh Studio created, operated and managed the launch of Mekostar, the first brand with guaranteed safe vegetables from Dalat and North Vietnam. The introduction took place at Ocean Mart Thanh Xuan, Asia’s largest underground Retail and Entertainment Complex in Hanoi.

For the grand launch in the flagship store of Ocean Retail group, Mekostar has entered into a marketing collaboration with KOTO. This is an Australian/Vietnamese social enterprise which has a hospitality training center and a restaurant in Hanoi where disadvantages youth are given the possibility to learn and strive in their lives.

Throughout the campaign, KOTO cooks presented several creative recipes with Mekostar products to consumers. Many enthusiastic and interested customers had the opportunity to taste and become familiar with Mekostar. Consumers were educated about Mekostar safe production and quality control protocol that ensures food safety of vegetable every day for Mekostar’s consumers.

Fresh Studio continues several other Mekostar campaigns at different supermarkets in the coming period. Read more about Mekostar by visiting the website:

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Developing a sustainable potato production system

One of the world’s largest potato processing firms, the world’s leading fertilizer company and the world’s largest crop protection product company contracted Fresh Studio to develop a higher yielding, higher quality and more sustainable potato production protocol in Vietnam.

Fresh Studio joined with leading Dutch potato breeding companies, to select new and potentially suitable potato varieties. In close collaboration with its clients, Fresh Studio developed a variety of cultivation protocols. These new varieties and protocols were tested in random block-design trials during four different seasons. The tests were conducted at Fresh Studio’s own R&D farm in the Central Highlands of Vietnam.

These trials resulted in the selection of two much higher yielding and higher quality potato varieties than the currently farmed standard. With these new varieties and improved cultivation protocols, yields were increased from 45% to 80%. Post-harvest and processing trials (fry tests) showed that the new varieties performed better than the current standard.

During our organized field days, hundreds of potato farmers were able to observe the difference between varieties, and related cultivation protocols. Fresh Studio is currently working closely with its clients to introduce these new varieties, conduct more potato trials all over Vietnam, as well as to develop a plan to train large numbers of farmers in new potato cultivation protocols.

Adding knowledge to the chain

Within the framework of the Vietnam Facility, The Netherland Ministry of Economic affairs, Agriculture and Innovation, contracted Fresh Studio.

Together with Applied Plant Research from Wageningen UR, Van Hall Larenstein of the Wageningen University, and Dalat University, Fresh Studio was contracted to manage and implement a project entitled: ‘Adding Knowledge to the Chain”.

This project aimed to find tailored practical solutions for a number of serious problems faced by the market oriented vegetable sector of the Dalat region in Vietnam.

These problems relate to productivity and profitability constraints in vegetable farming, irresponsible pesticide use, over-abundant fertilizer use, farmer safety and consumer food safety. The current vegetable sector in the Dalat region has limitations in current management skills, decision-making, and in finding innovative solutions to address modern market requirements (such as sustainable production methods, food safety and off-season production).

The project managed to establish a collaborative model between farmers, Fresh Studio, market players, Dalat University, agricultural policy makers, and others, which continuously applies innovative R&D, and to promote sustainable and profitable vegetable farming in the Dalat region of Vietnam.

Successfully developed innovations included lettuce production under rain shelters during the rainy season, and bell pepper production in local greenhouses on risky husk-based substrate.

Development of professional fresh fish chain

Since late 2010, the Fresh Studio aquaculture and fisheries team is working very hard for one of Fresh Studio’s clients to assist them in developing the first professional fresh fish chain of Vietnam.

While for exports the Vietnamese aquaculture sector just focuses on deep frozen export chains for pangasius and shrimp, this chain project focuses on the over 50 fish species which are popular in the domestic market.

The domestic chain is only fresh fish, which requires strict product quality control. During large fish farmer information sessions, widely covered by the Vietnamese tv and newspapers, the targets for the new fish sourcing system were presented. Hereafter an overwhelming number of farmers registered to join the program. Since then over 250 fish farmers have been trained in the required product specifications and good aquaculture production standard. Soon the first supply of fresh fish through a newly developed professional fresh fish processing facility will start.

Private label introduction for fresh products

Fresh Studio has successfully assisted one of the biggest fruit exporters of Vietnam in obtaining GLOBALG.A.P. certification for pomelo.

Our client is a fruit exporting company targeting both the Asian and the European market with a portfolio of Vietnamese fruits. With European retail channels requiring GLOBALG.A.P. our client requested our support for the implementation of the standard at a large number of Vietnamese contract farmers. Fresh Studio’s QA team first trained the QA staff and agronomists of the fruit company in the GLOBALG.A.P.  standard. Next Fresh Studio assisted the QA team and agronomists of the client in training the contracted farmers. Given that GLOBALG.A.P. is not yet common in Vietnam, the Fresh Studio team went to great lengths to make the multiple farmers understand the importance of the international quality standard.

Parallel to working with the farmers, Fresh Studio’s QA consultant assisted our client with the development of their internal quality management system (QMS). Although this QMS system had to be developed from scratch and it was a challenge to convince farmers to make the necessary investments like building adequate toilet and storage facilities to comply with the standard, after 6 months of hard work the fruit company passed the GLOBAL G.A.P.  audit.

The Netherlands, Vietnam enhance agricultural cooperation

HANOI – Dutch Deputy Minister for Agriculture Hans Hoogeveen together with representatives of prestigious corporations and companies in the high-tech agricultural sector, such as Greenport Holland, Incotec and Fresh Studio on the occasion of the visit to Vietnam said, “The Netherlands will actively support Vietnam in selecting and growing fruit and vegetables in greenhouse, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet peppers, lettuce, eggplant and kohlrabi.

In addition, the Netherlands will also help Vietnam apply advanced techniques in agricultural production in order to improve Vietnam’s fruit and vegetables.”

Dutch Deputy Minister for Agriculture Hans Hoogeveen also said that Vietnam had a diverse climate. Therefore, the cultivation of many different varieties of fruit and vegetables, especially high quality fruit-trees, such as oranges, tangerines, durians, pineapples, bananas, mango and dragon fruit would meet the demands of both domestic and foreign consumers. He also highly appreciated the efforts of Vietnam in the development of VietGAP-certified products and fruit-vegetable exports to the US, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

“Vietnam has implemented a number of cooperation projects with developed countries and international organizations, such as the US, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, India and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to research and develop new varieties of fruit and vegetables. However, cooperation between the Netherlands and Vietnam in the near future will help Vietnam access advanced agricultural production techniques in order to improve added value chain for Vietnamese fruit and vegetables,” Hans Hoogeveen said.

Exchanging genetic resources for use in the breeding process; supporting preservation and processing technologies; sharing regional and international market information and experiences in researching and developing fruit-trees will be major objectives of the Dutch-Vietnamese cooperation in the near future.

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Language: English

Publication date: August 2013Also interesting to read:

Introducing new standards ASC and GLOBALGAP for pangasius in Tra Vinh

Fresh Studio is contracted by GIZ to develop an ASC & Globalgap certified smallholder pangasius (catfish) farmer group in Tra Vinh Province.

The assignment started with an extensive analysis of the gap between the current fish farming practices and the new standard of ASC for pangasius, as well as the GLOBALGAP standard. While most pangasius fish farms in the Mekong Delta have developed into quite large very intensivebusinesses, the Tra Vinh pangasius smallholders have developed a different but sustainable production system.

The Tra Vinh model is less intensive, fish are healthy, and can be seen as a “cradle to cradle” scheme. Indeed, outlet waters are often use for irrigation of fruits and coconut gardens , and mud for fertilization. We believe that this farming system deserves market for those consumers who care about sustainability and quality, instead of disappearing into a bulk commodity pangasius product.

Based on the gap analysis a detailed plan was made to assist the smallholders to comply with both the ASC and GlobalGAP standard, one of the most important steps in this process was to first screen Vietnamese pangasius processors/exporters and European importers, in order to link the pangasius farming smallholders to those parties who are keen to buy and sell sustainably produced fish. These parties need to be willing to invest into the training of the farmers and to take over the whole extension and Internal Control System (ICS) after the first phase of the project is finished. Various companies were screened and very interested companies were selected to join the program.

On September the 17th and 18th a successful workshop was organized by Fresh Studio in Tra Vinh, where all pangasius small holders, the fisheries association, GIZ, local governmental departments and the selected companies came together and agreed on a detailed work plan, formalized into a MoU. All parties openly shared their hopes and fears and strategies were developed to deal with some of the fears.

The coming six to nine months the fish farmers will go through an intensive training program and a ICS system will be developed.

Setting up a vegetable and fish sourcing system

Since 2007, Fresh Studio has been contracted by a multinational wholesaler to manage and develop their vegetable and fish sourcing systems, with the aim to improve product quality and safety standards.

The assignment began with the establishment of a sourcing system in Dalat (Central Highlands of Vietnam). A certified sourcing system with over 150 contracted farmers was drawn up, and a new state-of-the-art HACCP certified pack house was designed and constructed. This system has been running very successfully for over 5 years, and the volumes produced, along with the number of farmers involved, are growing steadily. Every day the Fresh Studio sourcing team is handling over 150 different SKUs, preparing them for nationwide distribution to our client stores.

Inspired by the success of this project, our client asked us to develop a similar system for vegetables in the North of Vietnam, and for fish in Southern Vietnam.

Our aims are:

  • To develop year round supply of guaranteed high quality and safe vegetables from North Vietnam, Fresh Studio is working with 100 smallholder vegetable farmers in the lowlands of the Red River Delta, as well as the poorer and more remote farmers located in the mountains in the North. Using the climatic advantage of the cooler mountains in North Vietnam, a regional solution is being developed to supplement the vegetable supply from the Red River Delta during the summer period, thus creating the possibility for year round supply of guaranteed high quality and safe vegetables from North Vietnam.
  • Almost all investments and professionalization in the aquaculture sector of Vietnam have just focussed on pangasius and shrimp, which are the main seafood export products. But as our client targets the 88 million domestic consumers, nobody till date had developed a professional fresh fish sourcing and processing system targeting the 80 fish species which the Vietnamese love to eat. Within two years time Fresh Studio assisted its client to setup and manage the first fresh fish processing facility and developed a sourcing system which now every day sources fresh fish from over 100 well trained and certified fish farmers and 20 preferred marine and fresh water certified fish collectors.

Potato potential assessment

Our Dutch client, a potato seed and potato trading company, approached Fresh Studio with a view to conducting a feasibility study regarding the production and marketing of high quality Dutch table and processing potatoes in Vietnam.

We researched cultivation potential by testing 15 different potato varieties in Dalat and North Vietnam. Market potential and consumer preference were investigated through market research of current potato sales and consumption, consumer panels, food labs with chefs, sales pilots across modern and traditional outlets, and product test in co-operation with the processing industry.

The research resulted in potato breeds, which grow well across climate zones, and which offer sound market potential. Both professional services and private consumers clearly preferred selections of Dutch high-quality variety above the current offer.

Developing the vegetable seed market for high-quality seeds

Since 2006, Fresh Studio has been contracted by a Dutch vegetable seed company – one of the world leaders in breeding and distributing innovative high quality vegetable seeds.

After an extensive seed market study in various countries in Asia, our client contracted us to undertake continuous vegetable variety screening trials at numerous locations in Vietnam, including at our own R&D farm.

In addition to these trials, we assisted our client in developing the market for their vegetable varieties in Vietnam through farmer field days, and other small chain projects where we link farmers who grow the high quality vegetable varieties our client sells to vegetable processors, vegetable exporters and supermarket chains.