Written by: Ivy Torres | October 19, 2023
The first week of October was very exciting for the American Feed Industry Association’s global affairs team. Gina Tumbarello, Mallory Gaines and I went to Vietnam to host AFIA’s first in-country program. Our Vietnam programs are made possible by AFIA’s cooperator status with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) and the funding awarded through the FAS’s Market Access Program (MAP).
A bit of a recap for those who are new to FAS and their programs: MAP funding comes from the farm bill, which helps the AFIA and other cooperator organizations continue to expand market opportunities for U.S. industry and products. FAS partners with U.S. agricultural producers and processors, represented by nonprofit commodity or trade associations called “cooperators,” to promote U.S. commodities overseas. To read up more on Vietnam as a market, click here.
After several years of relationship building with the Vietnamese livestock and feed associations, the AFIA took our work to the next level and debuted a workshop on “Feed Additives as Antibiotic Solutions for Swine and Poultry Disease Prevention and Treatment.” The topic came about given the Vietnamese government recently banned the use of antibiotics for prevention and control in animals’ diets beginning in 2025. This ban provided an opportunity for the U.S. animal food industry to demonstrate how American feed additives and ingredients can be used to boost the overall immunity and health of animals.
Four AFIA member speakers from Lallemand Animal Nutrition, Cargill, Alltech and APC joined the workshop, speaking on pre- and post-biotics, spray dried plasma and yeast as feed additive/ingredient solutions. It was such a packed week, so let me break it down!
We started the trip with our first workshop in Hanoi on Oct. 2! For the event, we collaborated with the Vietnamese Animal Husbandry Association and the Vietnamese Feed Association; our partnership with the two associations has been crucial for AFIA’s introduction into the market. Fifty-three attendees, ranging from academia, feed formulators, sales managers and government officials, joined the meeting. They wanted to see the science behind the technologies being presented and how best to utilize the products and good husbandry practices to support animal health when antibiotics are removed as a viable tool in the toolbox. The AFIA staff appreciated this science-based approach! The participants inquired about the products, the feed formulations and how to get the most bang from their buck, with their questions confirming the interest and need for proper animal nutrition and access to U.S. based feed ingredients. I was encouraged to see the value the workshop brought.
The next day, the AFIA staff and member speakers traveled to the U.S. embassy in Vietnam to meet with the FAS in-country staff to hold strategic discussions as well as gain insight into what has been happening locally – both politically and in the domestic feed and livestock industry. These meetings helped us understand the direction the Vietnamese industry and policy seem to be going toward so that we, as AFIA and FAS cooperators, can make adjustments to our programming and messaging as we work to open and grow the Vietnamese market.
Our team also met with the Vietnamese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Department of Livestock Production. Ministry staff mentioned that they recently welcomed some of our other cooperator colleagues and are committed to making this an open and welcoming business environment for foreign sellers. The department eagerly shared its agricultural priorities, specifically their focus on sustainably and responsibly raising livestock and the implementation of increased biosecurity. The department is implementing policies to keep up with these commitments, while pursuing free trade agreements (FTAs). The department staff also expressed excitement about the emerging market of pet food in Vietnam and are currently developing regulations to facilitate this exchange.
After a day of successful meetings in Hanoi, we jetted off to Ho Chi Minh City, where we spent a day traveling around the city with members of the Vietnamese Small Animal Veterinary Association (VSAVA), touring local animal clinics and hospitals. The clinics gave us crucial insights into the realities of owning pets in Vietnam and we heard veterinarians’ perspective on some of the nutrition struggles they encounter with pet owners.
In addition to these visits, Mallory provided a presentation on the AFIA, the U.S. pet food industry and membership to veterinary students at Nong Lam University. These visits and meetings provided us with additional insight on how we can influence the fairly new and emerging pet food industry in Vietnam and how we can best provide veterinarians with nutritional information on the quality of U.S. pet food.
Our week in Vietnam closed with one more workshop in Ho Chi Minh City. The agenda mirrored the event in Hanoi, however, the 63 attendees were primarily made up of purchasers and traders, technicians and feed formulators this time. Because of that expertise, we found the attendees at had a better technical understanding of some of the products that were being discussed and more specific questions on the science behind the products and services our members discussed. This workshop left me excited for additional work in Vietnam to encourage business relationships between AFIA members and Vietnamese buyers.
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