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Thai ‘borrow’ Vietnamese brands, raising concerns among manufacturers

VietNamNet Bridge - Experts have warned that as Vietnam is now part of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), it faces a higher risk of local brands being stolen.
VietNamNet Bridge - Experts have warned that as Vietnam is now part of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), it faces a higher risk of local brands being stolen.

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Nguyen Thi Tinh, chair of the Phu Quoc Fish Sauce Association introduces real Phu Quoc fish sauce products


Vietnamese businesses were caught by surprise that Thailand’s fish sauce products are exported to the EU under a famous Vietnamese brand – Phu Quoc Fish Sauce. Thai rice vermicelli and dried noodle exports are called ‘Vietnamese’s New Noodle’.

Meanwhile, Ly Truong Chien, a branding expert, said that he had seen a dried noodle soup product at a supermarket in Japan with the words ‘made in Thailand’ on the package. He also saw the product at supermarkets in Thailand when he went there on business. 

“This shows that Thai businesses are more ‘fleet-footed’ than Vietnamese,” he said. “They understand well that Vietnam’s pho (noodle soup) is a favorite in the world, and they have exploited this and earned big money."

Vietnamese businesses were caught by surprise that Thailand’s fish sauce products are exported to the EU under a famous Vietnamese brand – Phu Quoc Fish Sauce. Thai rice vermicelli and dried noodle exports are called ‘Vietnamese’s New Noodle’.

Even Thailand’s fish sauce is also labeled Phu Quoc fish sauce, a famous brand of Vietnam.

According to Nguyen Thi Tinh, chair of the Phu Quoc Fish Sauce Association, Phu Quoc fish sauce exports to the EU increased sharply after the product was registered for the geographical indication protection in the market. 

However, many producers from Thailand and Hong Kong still sell their products to the EU under the name of Phu Quoc fish sauce.

“It is necessary for Vietnamese agencies to apply policies to ask the EU to strengthen the supervision over imports and eliminate counterfeit products,” Tinh said.

“If so, the fish sauce products made in Thailand and Hong Kong but bear Phu Quoc fish sauce will be eliminated and the exporters will be punished,” she said.

The same practice is happening with other Vietnam’s farm produce, such as rice vermicelli and noodles, which are favorites in Japan, the US and Japan. 

Though these are Vietnamese brands, the money has been going to Thai and Chinese pockets because they counterfeit Vietnamese products.

“A lot of ‘bun bo Hue’ (Hue beef noodle soup) and ‘hu tiu Sa Dec’ (Sa Dec noodle with seasoned and sauté beef) products turn out to be made in Thailand or China,” said the representative of a food processing company.

“I am afraid that consumers in the world cannot differentiate Vietnamese and foreign-made products,” he said.

The businessman went on to say that he knows many Chinese companies which carry their products to Vietnam where they label the products as ‘made in Vietnam’ and then export the products to ASEAN.

Lawyer Le Quang Vinh from BROSS & Partners law firm has advised Vietnamese businesses to register their brands overseas for protection. Trung Nguyen Coffee, for example, exports its products to 40-50 markets, but it has registered its trademark in more than 70 countries.

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