Business Business

13/05/2022 - 05:56

Exporting bird’s nest to US market

For a decade, Truong Minh Truong, a young man living by the sea, has proved that his start-up of bird’s nest farming is a right decision.

Workers processing bird’s nest of Minh Truong brand

Fate

My gossip with the young man from Phong Hai, Phong Dien started at a tea table in a small house in Vo Thi Sau Street, Hue City, where there were wood shelves and glass windows displaying products from bird’s nest of Minh Truong brand. It was already 12 years.

Truong used to experience hardship after he finished school in his village and went to the city to find a job. For many years, he underwent ups and downs in employment.

He believed that his decision on his business of bird’s nest was a fate. It started since he purchased a house in Vo Thi Sau Street, Hue City in 1998 with all his savings and parents’ support. On the day of moving in, he happened to see many swiftlets come and perch around the house. He began to learn how to raise swiftlets. 

It was not as common to raise swiftlets in Hue as in other localities such as Khanh Hoa. From what he learned through books, articles and internet blogs, he realized that raising swiftlets encountered difficulties not only in raising techniques and processing procedures, but also in the market for outputs.

Truong Minh Truong and his processed product from bird’s nest

His experience from his previous hardship told him that he needed to go ahead to find a way out although it might be rough.

Truong started his business in bird’s nest farming at home in early 2010 after a trip to Ho Chi Minh City for expert consultation and access to practical technology for bird’s nest farming that suits the climate in Hue.

He had his house upgraded and expanded to 300 square meters. When it was time, swiftlets come, build their nests and lay eggs. He collected bird’s nest regularly ever since. Finding it potential, he had another house constructed for bird’s nest farming purposes in Huong Phong and authorized his sister to run it for him.

Both houses have a total of six rooms with around 100,000 swiftlets, giving 50 kilograms of raw bird’s nest per year. Minh Truong bird’s nest has always strived for the highest quality with high protein content due to appropriate farming methods and unadulterated processing.

Truong reveal that farming techniques to attract swiftlets and food supplements for their health are important to ensure the good quality of bird’s nest, in addition to the investment in facilities. A stable habitat for swiftlets should be neither too hot nor too cold. If it is cold, the birds will fly out, risking death; if it is hot, they fly away.

Truong often save a budget for attendance in conferences and workshop home and abroad to access up-to-date skills and techniques in bird’s nest farming and processing. The most recent course he took was in 2019 in the kingdom of bird’s nest Malaysia, where he learned how to process and diversify products from raw bird’s nest.

Approaching big markets

With a slow voice, Truong said he has had 3 unforgettable encounters since he started farming the bird’s nest. In 2010, when the house was upgraded to 3 stories, the swiftlets flew in from many places, creating motivation for him to officially start a business that his friends described in a funny way that Truong was collecting “white gold” every day.

In 2015, bird’s nest of Minh Truong brand name from Hue was first introduced to the US market through unofficial quota. This made him happy to tears. In 2019, he decided to spend nearly 100 million VND to go to Malaysia for a course in how to process and fortify bird’s nest products, creating an opportunity for the product to reach the world market.

It seems that Truong marks a milestone in his business every five years. Bird’s nest farming is both his fate and career. Truong said that reputation was his priority in the development of his business. Minh Truong bird’s nest is currently one of the Vietnamese high-quality goods with a traceability stamp of origin approved by the functional agency.  

Truong admitted that his bird’s nest product was first introduced to the US market in 2015 by his relative through unofficial quota. From a couple of samples, his products won the trust of many customers in the US thanks to marketing intermediaries. He sells 4-5 kilograms of bird’s nest to the US.

Before the pandemic, Minh Truong bird’s nest store was on the list of many Hue-born Vietnamese Americans. Many regular customers cannot resist buying Minh Truong bird’s nest once they return home in Hue.

Many of them even ordered Minh Truong bird’s nest as gifts prior to their visits back home. During the COVID-19 periods, the product was a best-seller, all processed are sold out.

When the situation of COVID-19 became less severe, Truong was informed by relatives that an American business would visit Hue for opportunity to cooperate with Minh Truong. On hearing that, he was more than happy. It is so common for a business to export bird’s nest, but for a start-up in an “isolated” area, exporting their product via official quota is not easy.

“Seize the opportunity, or I’ll lose it,” said Truong as he showed me the import-export documents that has been 80% completed. The remaining papers include some certificates that can only be obtained next year.

While awaiting the paper procedure, Truong plans to expand its farming facilities, train staff and invest in more technology lines to process a variety of bird’s nest products to satisfy customer needs, such as pure bird’s nest, canned bird’s nest, bird’s nest wine. At the same time, he continues to foster brand development, make packaging designs more attractive and promote products through many sales channels.

Truong also initiates more projects to purchase raw bird’s nest products in localities to process to meet the quality standards as ordered. All plans he has made are practical because he has already networked with friends and fellows for cooperation. He believed in the saying: “If you want to go far, go together.”

I have a conviction that with his steadiness Minh Truong bird’s nest products will be officially exported to the US in a near future.

Story and photos: MINH VAN

Share