Domestic enterprises have been urged to take a more proactive approach when seeking ways to make inroads into the Thai market by gaining insights into market demand and food and hygiene standards to devise a proper long-term development strategy.
Both Vietnam and Thailand share similarities in terms of import-export structure, which is often viewed as the biggest hurdle for local businesses looking to gain a foothold in the Thai market.
While local businesses are struggling to find shelf space at home, Thai businesses have been quick to exploit the Vietnamese market, with their goods having secured a firm foothold among Vietnamese consumers for dozens of years.
Most notably, farm produce, fruit, and other goods from Thailand can also be found in supermarkets alongside Vietnamese goods.
There are positive signs of an exchange of goods between the two countries as Thai retailers have been striving to gain access to the Vietnamese market, apart from being keen on introducing Vietnamese products to the Thai market.
In order to fulfill the goals of diversifying the supply source of goods for its distribution network, Thailand’s Central Group has partnered with Vietnam’s export businesses in a bid to improve production activities, overall product quality, design, packaging, as well as enhancing connectivity with procurement units.
Furthermore, the Central Group has also conducted a market survey to identify products that are Vietnam’s strengths to introduce to the Thai market.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) and the Central Group Vietnam recently co-hosted the Vietnamese Goods Week 2019 at Central World Bangkok, Thailand during which 45 Vietnamese businesses showcased their products to Thai distributors, agents and consumers.
At the event, domestic firms had the opportunity to introduce five major potential products which are popular among Thai consumers, including noodles, tea, snacks, fruits, and processed food.
Moreover, a number of local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) took the chance to introduce their products such as Hai Binh, Ba Tu cashew nuts, Thanh Quoc fish sauce, Nguyen salt, and Dakmark coffee to Thai consumers.
According to Central Group Thailand, Vietnamese businesses will be able to win the trust of Thai consumers if they get a better understanding of Thai consumers' taste.
Nguyen Khanh Ngoc, deputy head of the European and American Market Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, said that although both nations share similarities in terms of structure of goods, they have typical products which reflect their own cultural characteristics. In time, this can be used as a way of marketing a product in order to win consumer trust.
Recently, several Vietnamese products have been able to enter Thai supermarkets such as Tops and Central Food Hall.
Notable examples include last year when Thailand’s Tops supermarket imported products from King Coffee and dried fruit from Vinamit. This year, Tops have unveiled plans to sell new products, including instant rice noodles from Vifon, Hai Binh cashew nuts, Le Fruit jam, and grind coffee from Sense Asia.
The positive signs have shown that Vietnamese goods are gradually securing a foothold in the Thai market.
Last year's import-export turnover between Vietnam and Thailand grew by 13.4 per cent to US$17.5 billion compared to 2017, of which exports to Thailand hit close to US$5.5 billion, a rise of 14.3 per cent while its imports rose by nearly 13 per cent to US$12 billion.
Vietnam’s exports to Thailand account for more than 20 per cent of its overall exports to the ASEAN market, while its imports from Thailand hold nearly 40 percent of total imports from the regional grouping.
In the first eight months of the year, the country’s exports to Thailand reached approximately US$3.7 billion with phones and components making up the highest turnover, followed by crude oil, machinery, equipment, computers and components, garment and textiles, and fiber.
Meanwhile, Vietnamese imports have doubled in comparison to exports with turnover reaching US$7.89 billion. Vietnam's major imports are fruit and vegetables, chemicals, plastics, paper, fabric, materials for the garment, textile, leather and footwear sectors, computers, and electronics, especially completely built-up (CBUs) cars in large quantity.
To narrow the gap between exports and imports, the MoIT has co-ordinated efforts with the Central Group to hold the annual Vietnamese Goods Week in Thailand as part of Central Group's retail supermarket chain in Bangkok and it will also work together with the Thai Ministry of Commerce to host an array of trade promotion activities in the coming time.