|Preliminary activities of bird’s nest processing at enterprises. Photo: T.L|
The world’s largest market
Dr. Nguyen Duc Trong, Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Association of Farms and Agricultural Enterprises, said that birds nest farming is a profession for products with very high nutritional and economic value, US$1,500-2,000/kg of bird’s nest. In addition, bird’s nest is the most advantageous export product in the livestock industry.
Over the years, the number of swiftlet houses has grown strongly in the localities. According to the Department of Livestock Production, if in 2027, the whole country has only 8,300 swiftlet houses, by 2022, this number will have increased to over 23,600. With that rapid development, the swiftlet has officially been considered as another animal in animal husbandry, guided by management guidelines in the Law on Livestock and by-laws, with basic and adequate institutional arrangements for management. At the same time, bird’s nest products are included in the Livestock Development Strategy orientation for 2021-2030, with a vision to 2045. Although according to this Strategy, by 2030, the output of oats is expected to reach 350-400 tons, with a price valued at over US$ 1 billion, this is really an important and highly economically efficient profession in the livestock industry.
In particular, on November 9, 2022, Vietnam and China signed a Protocol on the export of bird’s nests to the Chinese market. This opens up great opportunities for the bird’s nest industry when China is the world’s largest market for consuming bird’s nest. According to Tran Phuong Tuan, General Director of Vietnam Bird’s Nest Development Joint Stock Company, the world’s total revenue of bird’s nests in 2022 will reach over 10 billion USD. The Chinese market accounts for over 80% (over 8 billion USD). Indonesia and Malaysia are the two main sources of official bird’s nest supply to China. In 2022, China’s official import of bird’s nests was 451.6 tons, of which 291.8 tons came from Indonesia and 159.8 tons from Malaysia.
Meanwhile, Vietnam’s bird’s nest is mainly exported through small quotas, earning about 200-300 million USD/year and occupying a very small market share in China. Therefore, signing the Protocol to officially export bird’s nest to China will open up opportunities for the swiftlet industry to boost exports to this market soon.
Urgently complete the procedures
As a market with great potential for bird’s nest products, to officially export to this market, Vietnam’s bird’s nest industry needs to complete export procedures, first of all, granting codes to swiftlet houses. Because the Protocol on the official export of bird’s nest products to China requires that exported bird’s nest products have to be supervised according to the product chain, the origin can be traced from farming, exploitation, preliminary processing, processing, preserving, packing and labelling the final product, meeting the requirements of quality control, disease safety, and food safety.
Identifying codes for each establishment raising swiftlets is essential to manage the entire swiftlet houses on the national database system managed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. On the other hand, use this code to retrieve product information circulating in the domestic market and for export.
The bird’s nest industry in Vietnam is facing a series of unstable problems, such as the development of spontaneous swiftlet houses without planning for the farming area, lack of techniques in constructing and operating the swiftlet house, no production plan by the industry has been developed yet.
Therefore, businesses are looking forward to soon having instructions on registering and granting codes of swiftlet breeding establishments so they can soon begin to officially export bird’s nests to China. Accordingly, Tran Phuong Tuan expects to be able to start officially exporting bird’s nests to China this year.
To soon complete the necessary procedures for the official export of bird’s nests, the Department of Livestock Production is collecting opinions from localities, associations, businesses, and experts to finalize and issue guidelines soon on registration and issuance of codes for swiftlet breeding establishments. The Department of Livestock Production also proposed ministries and branches issue instructions on the procedures for exporting bird’s nests (raw, refined) and products from bird’s nests. At the same time, develop and promulgate standards and technical regulations related to swiftlets, technical processes for swiftlet rearing, preliminary processing and preservation of products to ensure biological safety.
According to Nguyen Duc Trong, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development should promptly direct its affiliated agencies to coordinate with FAO and businesses to implement guidelines for localities and agree on the management of the bird’s nest industry. Furthermore, on the part of processing enterprises, it is necessary to actively build Q.R. code-granting software for product traceability, product management in the chain, from farming, veterinary hygiene, disease control, harvesting, transportation, preliminary processing, processing and consumption; traceability software can be integrated into national database software to serve industry management.
Localities should soon implement the planning of swiftlet breeding areas to ensure food safety, environmental protection, and social security and closely monitor swiftlet breeding establishments. At the same time, proactively guide and grant identifiers to the owners of the swiftlet and bird’s nest following the current law, managed by information technology.
Besides completing the procedures for official export to China as above, Duong Tat Thang, Director of the Department of Livestock Production, also pointed out what needs to be done to develop the swiftlet industry effectively. That is to reorganize the production and management system of bird’s nest products according to the value chain, ensure disease safety, biosecurity for swiftlet farming establishments and food safety for bird’s nest products. Furthermore, in the long term, it is necessary to build and standardize the national brand of bird’s nest products, strong commitment to cooperation between bird’s nest export processing enterprises and bird nest farmers, and at the same time need support between central agencies and local authorities to promote the official export market of bird’s nest.