(BGO) - Many enterprises in the northern province of Bac Giang, though founded not long ago, have paid much attention to the building of trademark with unique and high quality products. The Ngan Giang Trade Ltd. in Luc Ngan district and Than Truong Cooperative in Yen The district are two among such firms.
Mrs. Bach Kim Ngan introduces her products to foreign visitors.
Among the 10 industrial agricultural products honoured by the People’s Committee of Bac Giang province in 2016, I was probably not the only one to be surprised at a product named for the first time – Kim Ngan vinegar.
So what was the special thing about the product? To find the answer for this question, I went to the production hub of Kim Ngan vinegar – Ngan Giang Trade Ltd. in Chu town, Luc Ngan district.
I was met by a pleasant woman in her middle age – Bach Kim Ngan, the owner of the firm, who was also the inventor of the product. During the last days of the year, production and business activities at the firm were busier than normal. Our conversation was often disturbed by phone calls and customers who came to buy paint (along with vinegar, Ngan also sells paint), but I managed to come to understand the startup process of Ngan and the reason why Kim Ngan vinegar won the favour of consumers.
Ngan, from Bac Ninh province, has worked as a chemistry-biology teacher at Chu town’s secondary school since 1993 after her marriage to a local man. Living in the town for years, she realised that the local lychee fruit was produced at huge volume each year but the product has not always been sold well at good price. This urged Ngan to think about making a product using “thieu” lychee, contributing to enhancing the value of the farm produce.
The typical characteristics of Kim Ngan vinegar include the light yellow colour like that of honey and the natural taste of each fruit. Besides being used as a spice in cooking, Kim Ngan vinegar can also be diluted with water for bathing or face cleansing, or with sugar for drinking.
Making use of her training and the knowledge from researching various documents, she began producing vinegar from “thieu” lychee. After several times of testing, in 2013, Ngan bought 500kg “thieu” lychee to make the first batch of vinegar. She gave the first bottles of vinegar as gifts to her friends and relatives who complimented the good colour and taste of the product with the typical flavor of “thieu” lychee.
That same year, at a trade fair in Bac Giang city, with the support of her former students, she sold 1,000 bottles of Kim Ngan vinegar at the event at prices doubling or even tripling that of normal kinds of vinegar. Many bought Ngan’s products out of curiosity, but later they found the quality of Kim Ngan vinegar was not inferior to imported vinegars.
- So all the process of producing and selling the products was smooth, wasn’t it?
- It’s not that simple. It is easy to sell the product at trade fairs, but such events are not frequent. When the product is produced in large quantity, it is not a piece of cake to sell it on the market.
A string of problems faced the businesswoman, including how to ensure food safety and hygiene requirements, label design and access to customers. To deal with the issues, Ngan introduced her product via the Internet, retailed in the province, opened representative offices in big cities and selected distributors in various provinces.
Thanks to her ceaseless efforts, Kim Ngan vinegar has won trust of customers who gave her good feedback on the quality of the product.
Currently, each month, Ngan’s company produces about 30,000 litres of vinegar which is sold at about 50,000 VND per litre. Major vinegar types include those made from “thieu” lychee, green apple, “tao meo” (docynia indica) and apricot combined with honey bee, using France’s natural fermentation method.
In addition to the domestic market, in 2016, the first batch of Kim Ngan vinegar was exported to Australia. Not satisfied with the result, the company plans to continue introducing new products made from Vietnam’s typical fruits, while expanding the market both at home and abroad.
Harvesting tea leafs in Ven village
Saying goodbye to the dynamic teacher-businesswoman, I left for Xuan Luong mountainous commune which was home to the Ven Village-branded tea. At that time, locals were focusing on taking care of tea trees for harvesting the first spring tea after the Lunar New Year (Tet) holiday. Talking with Chairman of the communal People’s Committee Than Nhan Khuyen, I learnt that the tea growing trade in Ven village had been maintained by Cao Lan ethnic minority people for hundreds of years through many ups and downs.
With the hope to restore and develop the tea growing area in the locality and create products typical for the hilly land of Yen The, in 2014, Than Truong Cooperative (based at Phon Xuong commune) linked up with local farmers to produce safe tea according to the VietGAP standards. The cooperative chose land meeting standards and took advantage of the support of the State in tea saplings and fertilizer. It guided farmers in improving local tea varieties, how to use biological products during the tea growing process, keeping a production diary and choosing suitable harvest time. All the harvested tea was bought by the cooperative.
Phan Tuan Anh, Vice Director of the cooperative said that in order to produce good tea, tea must be picked with one bud and two leaves and kept undamaged.
The processing procedure, including drying, fermenting and flavouring, was made carefully as an art. The cooperative harmoniously combined the secret method that had been practiced for hundreds of years by Cao Lan people and modern technology to make the Ven Village-branded tea. When infused, the tea has green colour, moreish taste with good smell.
At the end of 2014, Ven Village tea received a trademark certificate issued by the Intellectual Property Department (under the Ministry of Science and Technology). With various tea types such as tea with scents of laurel, jasmine and lotus, the cooperative produces and sells about 40 tonnes of tea in provinces and cities nationwide.
Than Truong Co-operative has harmoniously combined the secret method of Cao Lan people and modern technology to produce Ven Village tea that has green colour, moreish taste and good smell when infused.
Building up the success, in early 2016, Than Truong Co-operative introduced a new product: yellow tea. This is a tea variety of the Hong Sam family planted in West Yen Tu Mountain and Thac Nga village in Xuan Luong commune. Previously, yellow tea was harvested, processed and used by Cao Lan people in Yen The as a precious medicine. Currently, the Than Truong Cooperative has used the yellow tea harvested with traditional experience and advanced technology to make instant tea with pure natural origin.
Sharing with me the plan of the cooperative’s board of directors, Phan Tuan Anh said that the name of Than Truong means friendly and long-lasting (long-term and consistent business). This is also part of the cultural identity of Vietnamese people, said Anh, adding that in this orientation, the co-operative will continue expanding the material growing area under the VietGAP standards, with special focus on improving product quality and diversifying product types, while fostering connectivity with partners to export the products to the world market./.