VIETNAM March 2019
 
Vietnam Meat Industry moving slowly from Fresh to Chilled
 
There is a growing number of firms in Vietnam that venture into chilled meat, as more Vietnamese started to accept chilled meat as part of their diet. In fact, with growing concerns on the safety of fresh meat, for example pork and chicken over the recent swine fever virus and bird flu epidemics, Vietnamese consumers are starting to accept the consumption of chilled meat, as long as these products are considered safe, quality and competitively priced.
One major meat processor, Masan Group has built a meat processing complex in Hanam Province with total investment of more than Dong 1 trillion (US$43.2 million), with capacity of 1.4 million pigs per year, equivalent to 140,000 tonnes of chilled meat. Another major company, Vissan has also started to develop chilled meat production.
Nguyen Xua C?ong, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the development of chilled meat processing factories is a big change for Vietnam’s meat industry as chilled meat is not popular in the domestic market. To ensure the viability of this industry, the government has recently issued a national standard for chilled production and trading, aiming to ensure food safety and hygiene for pork products that are consumed on the domestic market and exported.
Nguyen said, “Chilled meat processing is part of the process of converting production from small scale to industrial processing scale with chain management, product traceability and meeting export criteria.”
Agricultural expert Voog Xua said production of chilled meat is one way to better ensure food safety for domestic and export markets. Chilled meat is frozen at -18 degree celsius and preserved for a long period for sale, however consumers must also know how to defrost the meat and to prepare it for cooking. Vietnamese consumers also need to be educated on the benefit of consuming chilled meat. In addition, the price of chilled meat must also be competitive as presently its price is a major obstacle as it is usually up to 30% higher than fresh meat.
At present, the Vietnamese market is dominated by fresh meat which is usually sold immediately after slaughter without cold storage, as such this does not require large investment in cold storage. Fresh or warm meat is preferred by Vietnamese consumers although this type of meat carries the highest risk of contamination as it is sold without preservation and sometimes from an unknown/untraceable source. A reliable source estimated that up to 90% of pork sold in Vietnam is warm (fresh) pork.
Vietnam is now the 7th largest producer of pork globally with 3.8 million tonnes in 2018, however most of the meat is for domestic consumption. The chilled meat sector will indirectly boost the domestic livestock industry. Already, many traditional slaughterhouses are shutting down in HCMC to shift to new mechanised processing, as part of the goal to maintain quality as well as to meet large demand from industrial scale processing facilities.
 
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