A more sophisticated consumer base

January 04, 2024 | 11:06
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Over the last decade, Vietnam has experienced a remarkable surge in food and beverage consumption, which opens vast potential for many international and local brands to jump into this bandwagon.

For instance, in alcohol consumption alone, the country’s consumption of alcoholic beverages increased by an impressive 95 per cent, with wine playing a significant role in this growth. This uptick in alcohol consumption can be largely attributed to the rapid expansion of Vietnam’s middle class, which is projected to swell to 95 million by 2030.

A more sophisticated consumer base
A more sophisticated consumer base, illustration photo/ Source: freepik.com

Vietnam’s dining and culinary scene has garnered significant international recognition, marking a pivotal shift in its food and beverage (F&B) market. This transformation began with the arrival of the Michelin Guide in Vietnam, a milestone that placed the country’s dining scene on the global map, along with other regional and international awards for travelling and top restaurants.

This influx of talent is enhancing the country’s dining options and indicating a growing interest among tourists in high-end culinary experiences. Concurrently, the local Vietnamese market is becoming increasingly aware and appreciative of the evolving restaurant and dining scene.

In parallel, Vietnam has seen a significant increase in 5-star hotel openings, including major international brands like Marriott expanding their presence beyond key cities to more outlying regions.

This expansion is not limited to international tourists; it also caters to a growing segment of local Vietnamese travellers. The presence of these luxury hotels is elevating the demand for high-quality ingredients, advanced culinary training, and tech.

Looking at the broader impact, these developments are contributing to a more sophisticated and discerning consumer base in Vietnam. Both local consumers and international tourists are experiencing an enhanced variety of F&B options, leading to more refined tastes and preferences.

This trend is expected to continue over the next 3-5 years, marking an exciting phase of growth and sophistication in Vietnam’s F&B industry. The country is poised to not only enrich its own culinary heritage but also to make a substantial impact on the global F&B landscape.

On the flip side, we believe that some upcoming trends and innovations in the industry form a crucial part of the market, particularly some topics such as automation, robotics, and sustainable agricultural practices. Sustainability will be a major focus, covering all aspects from packaging to food security.

However, we recognise that many trends are short-lived, largely influenced by high social media penetration and a youthful demographic constantly seeking novelty.

We advocate for a long-term strategy that balances trend adoption with consistent brand mission engagement. Whether through new menu items, events, or social media content, the goal is to build a strong community around the brand, ensuring authenticity from inception to continuity.

A key area of focus is the international recognition of Vietnamese F&B brands, particularly in commodities like coffee and cashew nuts. Traditionally, Vietnamese brands have relied on distributors for global outreach, often resulting in limited brand visibility.

To combat this, we emphasise the importance of direct connections and education in global markets. This approach enhances brand recognition and educates consumers about the quality of Vietnamese products.

Moreover, the necessity for Vietnamese brands to expand their knowledge of international market dynamics cannot be overstated. Understanding how to effectively collaborate with international brands is crucial for capturing a larger market share. This learning process is vital for brands aiming to establish a strong global presence.

A significant emerging trend in Vietnam is the rise of artisanal products. Vietnamese rum, for example, has gained international recognition, winning awards in global competitions. This reflects a broader trend of high-quality artisanal products, including chip brands, wines, and internationally acclaimed coffee and chocolate. These products, emerging from Vietnam’s rich agricultural resources, are increasingly seeking global exposure.

One of our recommendations for Vietnamese businesses is to attend international trade exhibitions, which can offer an excellent opportunity for learning about new products, technologies, and trends

Participants value the face-to-face interactions with exhibitors, which facilitate direct knowledge exchange about innovations, business strategies, and market intentions. These interactions are not just informative, but are instrumental in forming strategic partnerships and understanding global market dynamics.

A recurring theme in these discussions is the global trends of sustainable and organic food products. While Vietnam has room for development in these areas, participation in international trade shows provides insights into global trends, helping Vietnamese businesses to time their market entry effectively.

Exhibitions provide path for F&B ingredients enterprises F&B prioritising green development moves Key food and beverage players acquiring new shares Mapping Vietnam’s F&B on the gastronomic map

(*)Janice Lee, event director of FHA - Food & Beverage, Infoma Markets and Jovel Chan Founder, Saigon Social

By Janice Lee

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