Dec 18, 2012

Vietnam - Coffee gets a sweetener

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The international food giant known for such brands as Cadbury, Nabisco and Oreo has announced plans for a major investment in Vietnam’s booming coffee industry.

Mondelez International said it would invest in a programme at least $200 million in Vietnam, Indonesia and India to empower one million local coffee farmers by 2020, with an estimated number of 100,000 from Vietnam.

The firm said its “Coffee Made Happy” initiative in Vietnam was designed to train farmers in environmentally sustainable techniques, improve their livelihood and attract a new generation back to the small-scale farming sector.

“Coffee Made Happy is a bold, industry-changing move, and we think it’s achievable,” said Mondelez’s Sustainable Supply Chains Division’s director Neil La Croi. “This is the right thing to do for farmers, for the environment, and for our business. Together, we can help make coffee farming an attractive profession for generations to come.”

Mondelez declined to disclose the amount it would invest in Vietnam. While the name Mondelez remains unfamiliar in Vietnam, the company operates in 80 countries and boasts annual revenues of $36 billion. Its brands also include Jacobs coffee, Milka chocolate, Tang powdered beverages and Trident gums.

Under its new programme, Mondelez would in 2013 open a coffee farmer training centre in Vietnam’s Central Highlands Dak Lak province, known as Vietnam’s coffee kingdom.
Mondelez said Coffee Made Happy aimed to raise farmer productivity and the viability of small-scale coffee farming, strengthening agricultural practices and helping to build more sustainable coffee communities.

Mondelez is already collaborating in sustainable agriculture with partners like Rainforest Alliance, an international nonprofit organisation dedicated to the conservation of tropical forests, and the 4C Association, which is a global platform bringing together stakeholders in the coffee sector to address sustainability issues in a pre-competitive manner.

“By continuing these relationships and fostering new collaborations, the company will boost existing commercial skills development programmes in Vietnam and other important coffee markets,” Croi said.

Vietnam, a minor coffee exporter 15 years ago, now rivals Brazil as a world leader of coffee exports in terms of both volume and value.

According to a US consulting firm working with Mondelez to seek investment opportunities in Vietnam, this project is attractive to the country’s coffee industry because Vietnam’s coffee plantations tend to become older and older, with decreasing quality, while many coffee growers lack experience and investment capital.

Thanh Tung |

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