The International Development & Investment Corporation (IDI), a member of Sao Mai Group, has become the dominating catfish producer. Mr Trương Vĩnh Thành, Vice President of Sao Mai Group, shared his views on the great development of IDI in China and good arrangement of catfish industry chain by IDI.
Could you please introduce the position of IDI and Sao Mai group?
Sao Mai group has strong finance and human resource, witnesses 20 years of development, comprises of 16 member companies functioning in the areas of real estate, seafood and food production, tourism, construction, finance investment, clean energy and labour exports. At present, the total equity of the Group is over VND6 trillion and total asset value is VND21 trillion, which puts Sao Mai Group among the Top 500 largest enterprises in Vietnam, and also the leading real estate developer in the Mekong region. IDI is the biggest subsidiary of Sao Mai Group, which runs two seafood processing plants for export, with a daily capacity of 600 tonnes.
Sao Mai Group focuses on the real estate sector, but now has expanded its business into seafood producing. What is the reason and what is the group’s initial intention?
Catfish is considered the specialty of the Mekong River. This highly nutritious species is not efficiently exploited. Being a Vietnamese enterprise, Sao Mai group realises its responsibility to bring the outstanding value of Vietnam to the world. That’s the origin of the idea of “bringing the taste of Mekong to the world”.
Could you share your views on the catfish industry? How does IDI ensure the good quality of its inputs?
In late May, the need for exporting catfish continued to increase, the market for catfish has fluctuated sharply, leading to the increase in the need for resources. Right from the beginning, we determined one of the business development strategies as resources-independent and to complete the production chain. Whatever sectors or businesses can keep production chain close, make full use of resources, diversify markets will have strong competitiveness. IDI has done what others cannot. We have established “a broad band connection network” with satellites from hatcheries to farming areas. When IDI has prepared 80 percent of resources for two seafood manufacturing factories to stably operate, we can manage/control the market, reduce risks and keep the price stable.
What is IDI’s strategy to win the market?
IDI’s catfish products are present in 150 countries and territories all over the world. IDI stands among the top 13 out of 60 businesses qualified for export to the US. For the past years, IDI has been among top 20 biggest seafood producers of Vietnam. Besides maintaining and developing current markets, our next strategies will focus on accessing new and potential markets such as India, Indonesia, Japan, Russia, Korea, East European countries and others, with the ambition to dominate Asian markets.
Could you please share your views on Chinese market for catfish?
We view China as a major market in the world, with the population of over one billion; this is a potential place for the consumption of seafood in general and catfish in particular. At the same time, China is near Vietnam, which makes it very convenient for shipment. Furthermore, Chinese and Vietnamese traditional cuisines are in common. That’s why we choose China as our potential market. Currently, IDI’s products are present in Sichuan, Beijing, Guangdong, Fujian, Hainan, Shanghai and very popular here. This makes IDI a leading catfish producer in this market.
What is IDI’s plan for the Chinese market after establishing a representative office in Beijing?
In 2017, IDI established a representative office in Beijing in order to promote our brand in the Chinese market. Here we develop in two directions, on the one hand based on the available customers, on the other hand use other channels to distribute products, promoting the IDI brand. In addition, we continuously produce new products, diverse designs satisfying the taste of customers. Particularly, strict compliance with food hygiene and safety standards must be ensured. Besides, we also have the right to select partners with a good reputation.
In recent years, small-scale trade has been relatively strictly controlled, but there are companies secretly using this kind of trade. What’s your opinion on this?
As I said before, we select partners with a good reputation. The principle of IDI always applies the form of secure payment (deposit 20-30 per cent before production and pay the rest before delivery) so absolutely there will be no bad debt as well as payment risk, in all markets, not only China.
What are the opportunities and challenges for catfish production of Vietnam?
Last year, fish prices increasing have brought benefits to many households. As planned in this year, IDI will strive to achieve the highest profit ever. To this end, we have to continue to consolidate and implement strategies of analysing the situation, synthesizing market information and getting prepared to properly balance the areas and output of resources.