The food and beverage sector has demonstrated strong growth in Vietnam. Every year we see new brands launching or coming from overseas. And new concepts are always emerging.

The goal of this article is to summarize the current trends of the industry. From Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi, we’ll deep dive into the numbers and see what trends are emerging in the food and beverage industry.

Some Key Facts About Food And Beverage In Vietnam

There are many different segments within out-of-home consumption for food and beverage. The two main segments are the full-service restaurants and quick service restaurants. The first one corresponds to a more traditional restaurant (either casual or fine) whereas the second one corresponds to coffee, burgers, fried chicken, sushi places, etc. The two segments account for 72% (36% each) of the overall time spent for out-of-home consumption.

Lunch Lady Saigon
Credit : Mark Wiens

The rest of the market share is split through street food (11%), convenience store, canteen, bar/club (1%) and hotel.

If we define a typical out-of-home (OOH) consumer, it would be a male aged between 15 to 35 with a monthly salary from 7,500,000 VND to 30,000,000 VND.

Average Out-Of-Home Consumption Spending In Vietnam

The average spending in F&B made by a Vietnamese when he/she goes out depends a lot on where he/she lives. On average a Vietnamese spent 470,000 VND per month in 2015. But there are many disparities. And concerning out-of-home consumption, here are the average per-person ticket sizes of three of the biggest cities in Vietnam:

1.     Hanoi: 80,000 VND
2.     Ho Chi Minh City: 70,000 VND
3.     Da Nang: 65,000 VND

And here are the average expense per segment within out-of-home consumption:

1.     Fine Dining (full-service restaurant): 265,000 VND
2.     Hotel : 216,000 VND
3.     Bar/Club: 193,000 VND
4.     Fast Casual (full-service restaurant): 84,000 VND
5.     Quick Service: 72,000 VND
6.     Convenience Store: 50,000 VND
7.     Canteen: 40,000 VND
8.     Street Food: 35,000 VND

The street food segment remains the more affordable place to eat. And even if Vietnam is known for its street food, today it represents only 11% of the total out-of-home food and beverage consumption in the country.

Western Food

Nowadays, Vietnamese out-of-home consumption is made up by 35% of Western food! That sounds huge. But actually, just have a look at the past few years. More and more overseas chains and western franchises emerged in Vietnam. The western restaurants are mainly located in District 1. This can be easily explained through the strong presence of expats and travelers but also a higher average revenue in the area.

One more thing worth pointing out is the Western food way of consumption. It seems that Western food is synonymous of family or special occasions. This represents 40% of Western food overall consumption whereas Asian food rates around 15%.

Pizza Saigon
Source: asia-bars.com

Cheese Mania in Vietnam

One of the consequences of this Western food attraction is the interest of cheese. Most Western plates have cheese: burgers, pizza, pasta, kebab, burritos, spicy fire chicken with cheese (Korean), and so on. We already can feel this influence within the Vietnamese cuisine. You’ll be able to find baked oysters with cheese or rock salt cheese milk tea and people eating instant noodles with cheese.

Spicy Fire Chicken With Cheese
Credit : 램블 Ramble

Fast-Food Chains In Vietnam

Since 2000, fast-food chains have tried to conquered the Vietnamese market and they are doing pretty well. Most of chains are, for the moment, mainly coming from the US. And some arrived only few years ago such as Subway (first appeared in 2010), Dunkin’ Donuts (2013) and McDonald’s (2014). But other overseas brands are on the way such as Korea. And of course, Vietnam is trying to develop its own chains. Wrap & Roll is a good example. Launched in 2006, the company appears to be the pioneer in healthy and traditional Vietnamese food.

Western Restaurants Also Need To Adapt

Even if eating Western food is more and more common in Vietnam, overseas big chains and restaurants still struggle to attract some of the population. They can’t only bet on the fact that Vietnamese will adapt to them, restaurants need to adapt to the local tastes. Some good examples are McDonald’s and the launch of Banh Mi since 2016 through the McCafé and also KFC which features a few rice dishes on their menu.

Key Success Factors In Vietnam

There are key success factors that are a must to get for a restaurant in Vietnam. Availability, affordability and occasion are some of them.

Availability

One thing which is the most important will be the location. Depending on the type of food the restaurant serves, it must be in location that is accessible by the target market. For Western food, it’s obvious that the best place to be is District 1. But more than the district, some streets will give access, more or less, to the desired clientele.

Nowadays location is not everything concerning availability. Deliveries are taking a bigger and bigger share. And online delivery is growing strongly, it counts now for half of all food deliveries in Vietnam. Having an online presence is becoming a strong key factor for success. Websites such as vietnammm.com or marketoi.com contribute a lot to this growth.

Affordability

As we saw before, each food segment has its own average ticket size. The average expense in a street food restaurant will be 35,000 VND whereas it will be 265,000 VND in a fine dining restaurant. And in Vietnam, Western food is still way more expensive (x2.5) compared to Asian food.

Occasion

Asian restaurants are more focused on daily consumption whereas a Western restaurant will have clientele that come more for special occasions. As said before, consumers will go to Western restaurants a lot for family and special occasions.

One of the biggest meal hours in Vietnam is breakfast. It looks like it’s the most important meal for many Vietnamese. And most of them are eating it out of home. Breakfast at restaurants represents 20% more visits than lunch. More than that, breakfast is a great opportunity for restaurants because people have a breakfast routine: most of them visit the same breakfast outlet 3-7 times a week!

Saigon Street

How To Succeed In Vietnam

Different factors appear to be decisive in the food sector in Vietnam. The positioning of the restaurant based on either it is an Asian or Western concept is the most important. It will lead the business in terms of affordability, availability and occasion.

Some factors must be developed to differentiate from competition and create a competitive advantage. First, online ordering has become more common in Vietnam and it needs to be done as soon as the restaurant is launched.

If a restaurant is Western food oriented, it would still be interesting to offer localized menu items to more easily reach the Vietnamese taste.

Breakfast is a strong opportunity. As it is the biggest share of out-of-home consumption, a restaurant (of course it depends on the concept) should try to make a morning offer to capture more clientele.

Healthy food is also doing well in Vietnam. Vietnamese are more conscious about their health and start to look at what they eat. Healthy food and juice may be a possible opportunity in the long term.

Vietnamese Growth And Trade Agreements

The food and beverage sector will continue to grow as the country will. By 2020 the country expects to reach an income per capita of 15,000,000 VND and the annual growth rate will remain around 6%. F&B consumption has a good year ahead and there’s still time to catch and to take advantage of this growth.

Moreover, the Vietnamese government wants this sector to grow as sustainability as it can. That’s why it has been trying to develop free trade agreements with different countries or areas such ASEAN Free Trade Area, Japan-Viet Nam Economic Partnership Agreement, Chile-Viet Nam Free Trade Agreement and hopefully soon: Viet Nam-European Union Free Trade Agreement.

We tried here to gather some general knowledge about the out-of-home consumption market in Vietnam. Of course, all those data are not relevant for every single restaurant. But we think that it might help to understand this fast-growing market. Most of our data come from www.decisionlab.co and we invite you to take a look at their website.

Decision Lab’s Special Reports Out-of-home Food & Drink consumption trends Vietnam can be found here http://www.decisionlab.co/download-ooh-trends-vietnam