Australian grains on a roll in Vietnam

12 June, 2019

Vietnam’s appetite for bread and noodles made from premium Australian wheat could jump 44% by 2030, according to new AEGIC analysis.

AEGIC’s report, Wheat and barley markets in Vietnam: their strategic importance to Australia, analyses Vietnam’s grain market and economy to understand trends and suggest future actions for Australia.

Lead author Dr Peter White said Australia has historically been Vietnam’s largest wheat supplier, providing about 1.5mmt each year on average – however in recent years Black Sea wheat has been encroaching in the feed sector.

“About 0.9mmt of Australian wheat was used in Vietnam’s higher priced food market and we expect increased demand to expand this market segment to 1.3mmt by 2030 – a 44% increase,” he said.

“Similar to other South East Asian countries, Australian wheat has an excellent reputation for noodles in Vietnam. Australian wheat is also Vietnam’s first choice for bread (banh mi), which is quite unusual in Asia countries.

“To maintain and grow this market, the Australian grains industry has to make sure our wheat continues to meet the quality expectations of Vietnamese end-users as the economy grows and incomes increase.”

Dr White said malt and feed barley were also potential areas of growth for Australian exports.

“Vietnamese people love their beer,” he said. “Vietnam is one of the top 10 beer markets in the world, and Australia is already their largest supplier of malt and malt barley.”

“In the two years since the Intermalt malting plant opened in Vietnam (partly owned by CBH), barley imports into Vietnam have increased from about 50,000mt to more than 150,000mt in 2018. Australia supplied about 80% of this barley. This malting plant has the ability to double its capacity by 2030.”

Dr White said feed barley was another untapped market for Australia.

“The feed grain market in Vietnam has expanded rapidly in the past 10 years, but feed barley is not used in this market. Educating Vietnamese buyers about the benefits of Australian feed barley could create valuable new opportunities for Australian barley.”

AEGIC’s Chief Economist, Professor Ross Kingwell, said Vietnam would remain an important market for Australia in the years to come.

“Vietnam’s middle class will make up one-quarter of the population by 2030 and will demand higher quality food and beverages, such as whole wheat breads, premium noodles and full malt beer*,” he said.

“As Vietnam’s economy grows, it will be very important for Australia to carefully monitor and respond to the changing needs of Vietnamese flour mills, food manufacturers and consumers.”

“Convenience and affordability will remain a major factor for most people in Vietnam for the foreseeable future, so Australian wheat for human consumption needs to be attractively priced whilst maintaining its preferred quality status in the market.

“Australian wheat remains under pressure from lower-cost grain producers such as Russia, Ukraine and Argentina, which will be an ongoing challenge.”

* Many lower-priced beers in Vietnam and other Asian countries use rice or other adjuncts (in addition to malt) during the brewing process.

AEGIC is an initiative of the Western Australian State Government and Australia’s Grains Research and Development Corporation.

Fact file

  • Vietnam is Australia’s second-largest wheat market (after Indonesia) worth $460 million each year on average.
  • Australia exports about 1.5mmt to Vietnam each year on average. About 0.9mmt of this is used in Vietnam’s higher priced food market. Increased demand could expand this market segment to 1.3mmt by 2030 – a 44% increase.
  • Vietnam is experiencing rapid social and economic change with its economy set to double by 2030.
  • At 96 million people, Vietnam is the third most populous nation in South East Asia. Vietnam’s emerging middle class will double from 13% to 26% by 2026 – however the middle class is small relative to other South East Asian countries such as Indonesia.
  • Wheat consumption for food per capita in Vietnam has increased from 5kg in 1990 to over 16kg in 2018, and will continue to grow to about 23kg by 2030.
  • Barley imports into Vietnam have increased from about 50,000 to more than 150,000mt in 2018 – 80% of this from Australia. This could potentially double by 2030.

A roadside stall selling banh mi in Vietnam

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