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Foreign feed companies finding favor

Released at: 08:10, 15/08/2018

Foreign feed companies finding favor

Photos: VET Magazine

Foreign-invested feed companies have built trusted brands in Vietnam's feed sector.

by Huyen Thanh

French feed company Neovia Vietnam has built up its brand via a 360-degree marketing plan that involves organizing seminars, POP programs, promotions, social media seeding, as well as public relations (print ads, advertorials, editorials, and TV reporting). “Our corporation in general and Neovia Vietnam in particular have been very focused on marketing, especially in the digitalization era,” Mr. Christophe Guillaume, General Manager of Neovia Vietnam, told VET. “We have invested in many customer-oriented digital projects with potential and provided training courses for our sales and marketing teams on listening to customers. Building a brand in Vietnam takes time. A full understanding of Vietnamese customers is accompanied by the high-quality French products and technical support we are bringing to customers.”

“From Farm to Table”

Foreign-invested enterprises like Mavin, De Hues, Cargill, Masan and Neovia Vietnam have poured substantial investments into sustainably developing their brands. Mavin has provided a full package solution for its partners and customers that supplies feed and one or all of its support products and services such as livestock breeds, farming equipment, and technical advisory services. The brand has a major stake in four subsidiaries: Mavin Austfeed - its animal feed business, Mavin Farm - its farming business, Mavinvet - its animal health business, and Mavin Food - its food business. 

In Vietnam for 15 years, the Austfeed brand is well-known in Vietnam’s animal feed sector. In order to match the Mavin Group’s business and branding strategy, in 2016 the group decided to set up a holding group. The “Mavin” prefix would make its customers and partners aware of the Mavin brand in its integrated chain subsidiaries, according to Mr. David John Whitehead, Chairman of the Mavin Group. 

Other Vietnamese feed companies, meanwhile, simply sell feed and adopt straightforward strategies to secure market share, like offering cheaper prices and long-term credit to encourage dealers and conducting stronger promotional campaigns with farmers, according to Mr. Nguyen Van Nga, Director of Agrocom Vietnam Ltd., who worked for the CP Group, Japfa and Sojitz. They often share the segments of small-sized and backyard farms, who are short on capital and prefer promotions. 

“Strong feed companies often build up effective business strategies in which they supply not only feed but also technology and marketing solutions to customers,” Mr. Nga said. Livestock feed is indirectly consumed by humans, so feed companies need to emphasize safety and quality, he added. However, animal feed is a material in livestock growing processes, which produce meat, eggs and milk, and so the focus is not only on safety and quality but also on optimizing livestock performance. Such performance stems from many factors, including feed, genetics, animal health, housing equipment, the environment, and technical skills. 

“This is why feed mills with ‘full package technical solutions’ can partner with most professional farmers,” he said. “One difference between the animal feed and the food business is that feed business branding should focus on complete technical and market solutions more so than emotional value, as happens with consumer products.”

In the feed industry for 20 years, France’s Neovia and Neovia Vietnam have rapidly encouraged farmers to switch to its animal feed products. Its commercial team has played an important role in approaching and gaining the trust of farmers and agents. “We not only provide quality products that can bolster farming performance, but also provide technical business solutions for our farmers and partners,” said Mr. Le Thanh Tung, Neovia Vietnam’s Commercial Director. “We choose partners and farmers with the same vision and a positive attitude, and we are proud of our contribution to the development of Vietnam’s husbandry industry.” 

According to Mr. Nga, foreign-invested feed companies with their global know-how and market experience can support farmers in complying with Global GAP standards and end-products can then be sold at higher prices, earning farmers more profit. “Through such activities, their brand will become stronger and more competitive,” he added.

Expanding and winning over customers

Parallel to developing business in the livestock sector, Mavin has also invested in enhancing and developing the Mavin brand nationwide. “We invest in trade marketing activities, online marketing, corporate social responsibility, and customer care to expand our business and win over customers,” Mr. Whitehead said. “This helps customers understand us and puts the Mavin brand in their mind. The company has spent 3-5 per cent of annual revenue on marketing activities, equal to VND160 billion to VND180 billion ($6.9 million to $7.9 million) each year.

Neovia and Mavin have both invested in packaging, which also attracts customers. “Every year we invest money on reviewing our packaging and update our qualified certification in packaging to secure customer trust, such as BAP, ISO 9001:2015, and Global GAP,” said Mr. Guillaume. “Labeling and packaging are important for customers.” In labelling, the brand stays up to date with regulations from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, while in packaging it focuses on design and materials with clear specifications and outstanding features. 
Mavin was the first company in Vietnam to successfully export pork abroad, in late June, and it now plans to introduce fish, duck meat, and breeding chickens to the market in the next one or two years and will export duck meat and fish products. 

With eleven platforms in Vietnam and Cambodia to ensure quality service and the delivery of fresh products to customers, Neovia Vietnam is now planning to expand its production sites, with two plants to come in the northern and central region. The company already has major plans for new products, which it will unveil within the next three months.

As a local insider, Mr. Nga believes that many feed companies with strong brands are yet to invest appropriate sums in branding. To develop sustainably, a feed mill with a strong brand can build up its name in the value chain, known as the Feed - Farm - Food chain, he said. With advantages in professional business operations and global market relationships, strong feed companies could link with various parts of the Feed - Farm - Food chain and become a full business circle, of which feed plays the most important role. 

Branding has never been easy work, especially when a market is overly competitive. In the case of Vietnam’s animal feed market, there are a lot of challenges for players such as Mavin and Neovia Vietnam and the Top 5 largest feed companies - CP, Cargill, Masan, GreenFeed, and De Hues - who have positioned “strong and professional brands” in the minds of customers.

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