Baking is nothing short of wizardry. Throw in a gooey ball of flour, brown sugar, and melted butter into the oven for a quick fifteen minutes and watch it transform into a perfect companion to a glass of milk. So far, so easy. Right?
Despite how simple it may sound, baking actually requires a series of rather meticulous steps. Too much flour and the cookies have a gross texture and a funky rise. Too little, and they turn out flat and overly crunchy.
Thankfully, with facilities like Tan Nhat Huong committing to training bakers around Vietnam and supplying local shops with quality raw materials and ingredients typically sourced internationally, dough wizards can worry less about logistics and science, and revel in the joys of the baking process.
We visited the company’s headquarters in Tan Phu to speak with Chu Hoi, Tan Nhat Huon's Sales Manager, about the company's commitment to supporting local bakeries in the midst of changing consumer habits in Vietnam.
What is Tan Nhat Huong's backstory?
Tan Nhat Huong started in 1998 as a supplier of baking ingredients. In 2008, we branched out and became Saigon's first cream manufacturing facility. At the time, we realized that the Vietnamese baking industry had many prospects, but also faced many limitations, especially when it came to the availability of ingredients and baking supplies.
Most of these items had to be imported from abroad. So, we built a factory in the hopes of producing everything here! Little did we know that by 2015, besides our highly-revered line of baking creams and pre-made pastry crusts, we would be also manufacturing a whole variety of products for the industry.
We're the first such factory in Vietnam fully owned by the Vietnamese people, with modern technology from the Dutch company F.B. Ice. Today, not only are we asserting ourselves in the domestic market by supplying over 10,000 bakeries across Vietnam, but we're also exporting to 17 foreign markets including Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and South Korea.
How would you describe the company's mission?
As a B2B supplier, we have a firm understanding of the link between our clients’ performance and the quality of the ingredients. So we see our mission in adding value to our client's products. And while we prioritize their interests, it’s important that these partnerships benefit us as well.
Our end goal is to make the Vietnamese baking industry more and more prosperous. But it's not as simple as just expanding the production of cream, flour, or chocolate; it means investing in the talent of Vietnamese bakers as well! That's why we opened our baking training centers in 2010: one in District 3 of Ho Chi Minh city, and one in Hanoi.
What does an average day look like at Tan Nhat Huong?
As an ingredient supplier, besides handling mountains of paperwork, we are laser-focused on maintaining a clear line of communication with our customers – the bakeries and the bakers. This entails exchanging everything from recipes to business experiences, as well as helping the customers with developing proprietary business plans.
How is Tan Nhat Huong different from other bakery suppliers and producers?
Currently, in Vietnam, we are only one of two leading facilities producing cream. And although our main competitor has 80 years of experience on us, we have a more advanced production process thanks to our technology partner F.B. Ice in the Netherlands, who has given us a lot of confidence in our own competitiveness and the quality of our products.
What kind of baking trends are you noticing in the market in Vietnam?
Recent years have brought a clear market segmentation. On one hand, foreign multinational F&B corporations are beginning to establish chains in the market. And they're stepping out of the box in terms of what they're bringing in as well! It's not just sandwiches and cakes anymore. The industry is just scratching the surface in terms of innovation.
On the other hand, homemade goods are also on the rise. Vietnamese have simple tastes. We prefer goods that are healthy and homemade; less sugary and made with love. Maybe this is because of the pandemic, but people are becoming increasingly conscious of what they're putting into their bodies.
Both of these rising trends put considerable pressure on traditional bakeries. Without an up-to-date branding scheme and an efficient marketing strategy, these bakeries will face a very real threat of being outcompeted. Tan Nhat Huong is committed to helping these businesses by apprising them of the latest market trends, with vogue products and cutting-edge technology.
They can count on us for consultancy, to help them out with decision-making and catch them up with the latest technology, recipes, and trends.
How would you describe your company in three words?
Willing to help.
When Tan Nhat Huong was created, one of our first goals was to create more opportunities for local bakeries around the country. Before we joined the market, bakeries in Vietnam had only one supplier that claimed a monopoly and set the price.
Now, these same bakeries have more options in terms of quality and pricing thanks to Tan Nhat Huong. Competitive pricing that we offer can be credited with the growth currently seeing in the local retail bakery sector. To put things into perspective, raw materials and ingredients imported from Thailand can add as much as 30% to the cost of the product.
What's next for Tan Nhat Huong?
We really want to diversify our portfolio, since bakeries are no longer limiting themselves to cakes, but different pastries and bread as well. Just this past year, our company introduced a range of chocolate products, including compound chocolate and couverture chocolate.
We've also started producing frozen products. Tan Nhat Huong is the only local facility producing frozen tart bases. So now, restaurants, hotels, and bakeries can enjoy the same upscale quality they expect from exported products right here in Vietnam.