Vietnamese traditional fish sauce makers need to step up marketing to promote their products both at home and abroad, experts said.

Vietnam has more than 3,000km of coastline and an abundant source of seafood.

According to the Ho Chi Minh City Food and Foodstuff Association, the country consumes 250 million litres of fish sauce per year. Of this, traditional fish sauce accounts for 60 million litres and industrial fish sauce for the rest.

A survey by the Ho Chi Minh City-based Business Study and Assistance Centre (BSA) pointed out that 90 per cent of fish sauces are distributed via traditional channels, with traditional markets accounting for nearly half.

Only one or two businesses have programmes to promote their products, and the distribution channels of traditional fish sauce makers are not stable, according to BSA.

Didier Corlou, a famous French chef who cooked meals for many world celebrities who visited Vietnam, said there is a huge opportunity to promote consumption of traditional fish sauce in the country given its large population.

But for that he said it is necessary to educate people, especially the younger generations, how to identify traditional fish sauces from industrial ones.

To enable the export of traditional fish sauces, he said businesses should focus on quality and not use additives, and just use fish and salt to make them.

Importers, especially in Europe, only care about the quality of the fish sauce, not quantity, he said.

Businesses could promote their products to the world through celebrities or famous chefs, even through tourism and diplomatic programmes, he said.

They need to tell stories to consumers about how traditional fish sauce is made and the process of brewing anchovies in vats so that they understand the value of fish sauce, he said.

Every locality needs a different story because every place has its own unique characteristics, and businesses should integrate these stories into their marketing strategies, he added.

To promote the marketing and distribution of traditional fish sauces, the High Quality Vietnamese Product Business Association has implemented a programme to enable traditional fish sauce associations and businesses to bring their products to modern trade channels and traditional markets in large cities such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

Vu Kim Hanh, the association’s chairwoman, said the programme would develop an app to support sales and marketing and improve the brand identities of traditional fish sauces.

“The market is becoming increasingly competitive, requiring traditional fish sauce makers and traders to improve their marketing and distribution capabilities in the battle for market share.” VIET NAM NEWS/ANN