The visit revealed not just the dedication and expertise of the Vinamilk and Tetra Pak leadership teams that brought this automated ‘mega plant’ from vision to reality, but also the dynamic potential that dairy products hold in this fast-evolving nation.
Vinamilk’s new 20-hectare plant has involved a first-phase investment of $110m and represents the largest (400 million litres in the first phase, doubling to a potential 800 million litres in phase two) and most advanced plant Tetra Pak has ever built in the dairy industry.
“Vietnamese milk demand and consumption has been increasing and consumers are becoming more selective,” said Nguy?n Qu?c Khánh, executive director supply chain, Vinamilk, during my visit. “This is why Vinamilk decided to double its capacity by building a new powdered milk factory, plus the new ‘mega plant’, in order to meet demand and compete at a world class level.”
Drinking-milk products in Vietnam have enjoyed double-digit value growth in recent years thanks to the country’s still relatively low (20 litres per annum per capita) milk consumption compared to other Asian countries (ie Thailand with 34 litres, Malaysia with 54 litres and the global average of 44 litres per capita per annum), and the growing awareness of milk’s intrinsic health benefits.
Extended government initiatives dedicated to raising the average height of the Vietnamese population, for example, have been supported by further action by companies such as Vinamilk, with its work to foster the drinking of milk in schools and the supply of milk to children in rural areas.
As Vietnam’s second largest company, Vinamilk dominates the market for drinking milk in the country, with a 48% value share in 2013 (according to Euromonitor). Since 2008, the company, in partnership with the National Fund for Vietnamese Children, has run the Milk Fund Vietnam never stops growing. The programme has already brought over 22 million glasses of milk (180ml/glass), equivalent to $3.9m, to over 307,000 children in Vietnam.
Through this and other country-wide activities, the malnutrition rate among children has decreased, and kindergarten enrolment and attendance have increased (according to Vinamilk).
Such developments, coupled with increased demand from trendsetting young consumers (my 27-year-old guide during a tour of local landmarks confirmed that she always makes sure that she drinks a pack of liquid milk every day) and the fact that Vinimilk now has the necessary additional capacity to meet demand, are likely to see the dairy sector continue to flourish in Vietnam for some time to come.
Watch out for further reports, podcasts and interviews from my visit, and future cover story in Dairy Innovation.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019