Wheat consumption trends in Vietnam

South East Asia is increasingly the most significant market for Australian grain. During the past five years there has been four countries within this region that regularly feature in the top 10 export destinations for Australian wheat.

Australian grain producers have a high awareness of Indonesia as Australia’s largest market, with imports of wheat from Australian totally more than 4.4 million tonnes during 2012.  Growers may be less familiar with the Vietnam market, which in some years has been Australia’s second largest market for Australian wheat. In fact, exports to that market have increased dramatically from 380,000 tonnes in 2007 up to a high of 2.4 million tonnes during 2011.

Wheat consumption in Vietnam

The consumption of wheat based foods in Vietnam has historically been low.  However, Vietnamese people are beginning to replace traditional rice based diets with wheat products, particularly in the larger cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh.  This growth is predicted to be 3-8 per year and is largely due to changing lifestyles as consumers become more familiar with convenience and fast foods and as rural based populations move towards the cities for work opportunities.

Instant noodles

Instant and Chinese noodles are the main wheat flour-based products consumed in Vietnam, representing between 40-50 of total wheat use. Vietnam ranks fourth in the world amongst instant noodle consumers with more than 50 instant noodle factories producing more than five million packets each year with an annual growth rate of 8.

The dried noodle segment uses a medium protein flour that is largely produced from APW grade wheat from Australia. This may be blended with wheat from other grades to develop a range of products with different quality attributes.

The bakery sector

The bakery sector represents between 35-40 of total flour use in Vietnam and is trending towards more western style sandwich type breads and baguettes.  Australian grades APH, AH and APW are utilised, along with higher protein wheats from North America.

Grain for feed purposes

Wheat imports for feed purposes, commonly used for the aquaculture industry, has grown dramatically due to price competitiveness against corn and rice. While the aquafeed industry seeks cheap grain it also needs wheat with a high gluten content to help hold the feed pellets together when placed in water.

While Australia continues to be the dominant supplier of wheat to Vietnam, it is important for the Australia industry to focus on meeting the requirements of this market for wheat quality, functionality, seasonal crop information and technical exchange.