Ushering in prestige for the Vietnamese milk industry

September 21, 2020 | 19:19
With her dream of producing the best milk for Vietnamese people, Thai Huong – general director of privately-owned BAC A BANK and founder of TH Group – succeeded in building one of Asia’s largest dairy cow and fresh milk production farms within only a few years, helping to change the nature of Vietnam’s dairy industry and bringing fresh products to the wider world.
1510p19 ushering in prestige for the vietnamese milk industry
Thai Huong has made great contributions to Vietnam’s milk industry

This year marks a decade since TH Group and its brand name TH true MILK were brought into life, from there demonstrating the strong will and determination of the group’s founder, Thai Huong. In 2011, when TH began to set foot in the local fresh milk market, former Israeli President Israel Shimon Peres stated when he visited the group’s project, “When I shook hands with Huong, a woman with small stature, I felt a strong energy source from her.”

Over the past 10 years, not only the president but Vietnamese leaders have also stated that Huong’s energy has created exploits at home and abroad when they look at what she has done for Vietnam’s milk industry. In addition to a $1.2-billion concentrated large-scale dairy cow production project in the central province of Nghe An, TH Group has also been developing similar ventures producing safe farm produce in many localities nationwide.

“Huong has made extraordinary efforts. She is an enterprising woman with strong determination to take the local milk industry overseas,” said Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, Chairwoman of the National Assembly, when she visited TH Groups’ $2.7-billion concentrated large-scale dairy cow production initiative in Russia.

A warm heart

TH Group was given birth to naturally and almost by accident. Huong told VIR she decided to produce fresh and clean milk in order to take care of children.

In 2008, the Chinese milk market was rocked by a melamine scandal caused by a milk production firm. Meanwhile, some 92 per cent of Vietnam’s milk was then the imported powdered form used as reconstituted milk, a large part of which was imported from China. Fresh milk almost could not be found in Vietnam.

“It was then I realised I must act quickly with this project. The users of milk are mostly children, the drivers of Vietnam’s future,” she explained. “What I give to my children must also be given to your children. But in order to implement the project, I needed a teacher. Thus I found the teachers in Israel – the world’s leader in raising dairy cows, and with almost the same climate conditions as Vietnam.”

One of the advantages for Vietnam is its agriculture, which has great potential. But it took lots of time for Huong to find suitable products for her brand.

“Finally I decided to invest in producing fresh milk and medical herbs right on Vietnamese land,” Huong said. “Milk is essential for all people and the same is true of medical herbs. Vietnam has thousands of years in developing herbs. However, development of the plants has been on the wane. Vietnam has annually had to import a great amount of herbs to make medicines and drinks.”

TH Group is now implementing projects to plant and process medical herbs with the TH Herbals brand name. Its business strategy is for sustainable development in service of Vietnamese people.

Little is known about the name of TH. During the process of constructing the farm in Nghe An, every day Huong left for the farm at 2am and spent the days there, returning to Hanoi at night where she had to work from her office.

On one of these commutes in a car, looking out up to the blue sky with white clouds, she told her assistant that she wanted her brand name to be “true” and that all Vietnamese people must be happy. It was there that “true happiness”, or TH for short, was created.

It is because of Huong’s aspiration to bring true happiness to all people that TH Group has weathered numerous difficulties to grow from strength to strength. It has found out its own recipe for success with some strategic factors: Vietnamese natural resources combining with local brainpower and the world’s latest technologies, including production tech science and governance science.

Before the appearance of TH, in Vietnam’s milk market there was a lack of information about the origin of materials used to produce products on their packages. Huong had to work ceaselessly with authorised agencies about ensuring accuracy and transparency on all milk labelling, and her efforts eventually paid off. The National Assembly Committee for Science, Technology, and Environment, and relevant ministries received her proposals before performing specialised supervision over liquid milk products nationwide. Today, the rate of reconstituted milk in Vietnam has reduced from 92 per cent in 2008 to 60 per cent now thanks to TH Group, which holds around 40 per cent of the country’s fresh milk market share.

Before the appearance of TH Group, Vietnam’s milk market was virtually unknown on the global stage. However, in 2015, TH’s farm in Nghe An was recognised as the most concentrated large-scale high-tech dairy cow production project in Asia by the Asian Book of Records. Since 2010, the group has reaped various high-profile awards at international events such as World Food Moscow, Gulfood Dubai 2016, and the Stevie Awards 2018, among many others.

Thai Huong has not stopped at producing fresh milk. Following her warm heart, TH Group has also focused on other sectors based on the six key sustainable development pillars of nutrition and health, humanity, education, the environment, community, and animal welfare.

“Do everything from your heart, and life will be better,” Huong said.

1510p19 ushering in prestige for the vietnamese milk industry

Sailing overseas

Last October, TH Group became the first Vietnamese enterprise allowed by China to export fresh milk products into its market, with the two products of pure sterilised fresh milk and fresh sterilised milk supplemented with natural flavouring.

Under a protocol signed in April 2019 between Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) and China’s General Administration of Customs on veterinary and health requirements for dairy products to be exported from Vietnam to China, TH Group has met all strict requirements and conditions set by China – a market with a population of 1.4 billion people and around $30 billion in annual fresh milk consumption.

“This event was of special importance as it marked a major milestone in the agricultural sector. It affirmed that the quality of TH Group’s fresh milk products in particular and of Vietnam’s farm produce in general is warmly received by Chinese consumers,” stated MARD Minister Nguyen Xuan Cuong.

“This event will also usher in big opportunities for Vietnam’s dairy cow industry and milk processing industry in access to not only China, but also other potential markets such as Japan, Canada, Australia, the US, and Thailand,” he added.

While constructing a $2.7-billion high-tech concentrated dairy and fresh milk production project in Russia, TH Group is also constructing a similar project in Bashkortostan, the most populous republic in Russia. These projects are of special importance as they serve as a symbol for the agricultural economic cooperation between the two countries.

Most recently, with Huong’s big aspiration to take her projects overseas, TH Group have invested $88.5 million in two major projects in Australia involving producing dairy cows, cotton, sunflowers, and maize, as well as producing and processing mango juice. With her great ambition as well as continuing will and determination, Huong plans to move forward in her business and investment strategies at home and abroad.

“We will take the Vietnamese agricultural sector to the world with products meeting the most stringent international standards. To make a brand name to last forever we need patience, a warm heart, and patriotism, as well as sturdy and correct strategies,” she told VIR.

By Thanh Dat

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