Fresh Studio, Vietnam:

Dalat is growing into Southeast Asia's Almeria

Horticulture production in Vietnam is evolving in several ways, showing a steady development of Vietnam’s horticulture industry.

Vietnamese company Fresh Studio is at the right crossroads of these developments. The company offers a combination of consulting services as well as the supply of horticulture technologies, internationally sourced, for the Vietnamese market.

To the right, René van Rensen is Managing Partner at Fresh Studio. 

René van Rensen is Managing Partner at Fresh Studio. He has been active in Vietnam since 2007. According to him, the demand for development, knowledge, and support is high among Vietnamese growers. “Dalat, a region in the middle of the country that is the heart of Vietnam’s horticulture industry, can be compared to Almeria in Europe. In the past, greenhouses were built with bamboo frames, but nowadays, all greenhouses are built with steel frames and covered with greenhouse film. The quality and design of the locally built greenhouse have improved, and the area built per grower has increased in recent years. Growers in Vietnam are typically small-scale, but the total greenhouse area in the region of Dalat covers more than 6,500 hectares,” introduces René.

The team of Fresh Studio, present at HortEx Vietnam in March 2023

The region is developing, and more greenhouses are being constructed. Vietnam is a large vegetable producer and consumer. During the dry season, some of its vegetables are exported to markets like Singapore. Regarding the floral industry, Vietnam produces both for its domestic market and export markets. Some of the players in the market, like HasFarm, are large exporting companies. But the importance of the domestic market for flowers and potted plants is growing in the country, with a population of reaching a hundred million people coming April.

René comments: “There are two moments a month that are influential for floral consumption: full moon and half-moon when demand for chrysanthemums is notably higher. Flowers are becoming popular at weddings, and people are starting to decorate their houses and desks with pot plants.”

Lettuce production in Vietnam

Among growing production and consumption, there are also evolving challenges that the Vietnamese horticulture sector is facing, including water management and the salination of water resources. The Mekong Delta area is confronted with growing levels of salination. The water levels from the Mekong River continue to become lower year-on-year, and salty water from the sea is pushing upward into the river delta.

Dalat itself, the capital of Lam Dong Province with an altitude of 1,000 – 1,500 meters, is not confronted with this situation. However, catching rainwater and using it sparsely will help to avoid water shortages in the future. This can become increasingly important now horticulture production continues to grow.

Fresh Studio Sweet Pepper Field Day

Regular disinfecting practices are a challenge in Dalat. René explains: “We encourage growers to grow alternating crops during the season, so we can keep viruses and bacteria growth under control. Growing on a substrate also helps to combat this problem. Dalat is a fantastic region for horticulture. However, because there is such intensive production in a relatively confined area, there is always a risk that diseases spread.”

Fresh Studio is constantly looking for products and solutions that can be applied in Vietnam: “A Dutch Summer is marked by long days with many hours of daylight. Vietnam, close to the equator, is warm but with fewer hours of daylight a day. We are now exploring Autumn and Winter varieties from Europe to be grown in Vietnam. The circumstances are slightly different, but there might be a strong match here,” he explains.

“Back in 2006, our business was in its foundational phase. We started as a consultancy business, and working on the questions and opportunities with our clients, we realized there was an opportunity to introduce and market new technologies and products in Vietnam. Therefore, we set up a new company to distribute these technologies in Vietnam in 2019, but as a lot of farmers know and trust Fresh Studio, our team focusing on technologies continues to work under the Fresh Studio brand. We currently have a large portfolio of solutions we can introduce to our clients ranging from seeds, greenhouse film, substrates, irrigation, to anything else a grower needs to take care of their crop”.

Fresh Studio has grown considerably in the last three years. Its strength comes from its position, which enables it to test a product in the market and receive feedback from the market. The company can engage with the grower and show which, or how, products would be beneficial to them. The Vietnamese market is very price competitive. This is a challenge for many companies, and Fresh Studio can help players to find the right partners on the market.

Local consumption
Vietnam has the potential to become a large horticulture export country. At the moment, domestic consumption is strong and growing. Vietnam’s young population is increasingly aware of its environment, the effects of climate change, and environmental pollution risks. Consumers in Vietnam are increasingly critical and engaged. Young people are organizing beach and city clean-ups, where they focus on cleaning up plastics. This also reflects the demands for fresh produce consumption and supplies. There is growing demand for safe produce in Vietnam and around the world, and many farmers are adopting sustainable farming practices to meet this demand. This includes the use of natural fertilizers and pesticides, crop rotation, and integrated pest management.

In addition, there is an increased focus on food safety. In recent years, there have been several food safety scares in Vietnam, which have led to increased awareness of the importance of safe and healthy food. As a result, there is a growing emphasis on food safety and quality control in the vegetable production industry.

“With our services and technologies, we strive to make food production more sustainable and safer while at the same time increasing the income of farmers,” concludes René confidently.

For more information:
René van Rensen
Fresh Studio
14, Ba Thanh Tu street, Ward 3,
Da Lat city, Lam Dong province, Vietnam 

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