08/10/2017 20:35 GMT+7 Email Print Like 0

Ecolink - A Taste of Vietnam Ethnic Culture


As one of the 10 largest tea exporting enterprises in Vietnam, Hiep Thanh (Ecolink) has the strength to deliver to foreign consumers its products called “Vietnamese organic tea” through  the distribution channels of the
Fair Trade Labelling Organisation (FLO).

Ecolink reaches an annual average growth rate of 20%. The company expects to export 500tonnes of tea by 2020. It has implemented 17 projects and cooperated with 1750 organic tea growers. 
Ecolink was set up in August 2004 by a group of commodity traders and development consultants, with the purpose of promoting organic and fair-trade agriculture as a different way of branding Vietnamese tea internationally, and increasing the awareness and consumption of organic products domestically.
The company operates across the entire value chain in a partnership with farmer cooperatives.  It provides training and consultation for the groups to get organic certification, and builds strong supply chains in the organic industry in Vietnam, from planting and processing to distribution.

Ecolink is considered a pioneer in Vietnam’s organic farming and fair-trade sector, working to promote the organic farming industry in Vietnam and abroad. Ecolink was a founding member of the Vietnam Organic Association.

Pham Minh Duc, Managing Director of Ecolink, said that starting with the idea of producing organic tea, the company launched its first project in Tan Cuong (Thai Nguyen) and failed. However, he did not despair as he noticed the opportunity to optimise the chain of production and supply of organic tea. This will be a promising direction for the company to continue expanding tea production in Ban Lien (Lao Cai province), Quang Binh (Ha Giang province) and Tam Duong (Lai Chau province).

To ensure that tea products are in demand by Western consumers, Ecolink had to carefully study the preferences of this market and identify specific features of this product. For example, Ecolink took eight years to create products for the European market with a mild natural fruit aroma, suited to the tastes of customers.

In addition, the company also creates various types of organic tea products in Vietnamese culture, advises other enterprises to expand the production of certain vegetables and spices (cinnamon and ginger) in such provinces as Ha Giang, Tuyen Quang, Yen Bai, Hanoi and others.

13 kinds of Ecolink tea products, such as Black Tea Op, Red Tea, Jasmine Tea, Shan Steamed Green tea, Green Tea Straighten, White Tea and Green Tea Fanning, have received certificates of permanent production corresponding to the European (EC834 / 2007) and Canadian (CAN/CGSB 32,310, 32,311) standards for organic products. They also have the right to use the US certification logo (USDA). These products are supplied to the markets through the distribution channels of FLO and have already become the favourite drinks of many European consumers.

 

Hills in Ban Lien (Bac Ha, Lao Cai province) with tea plantations. Photo: Ecolink’s file

Tay ethnic people collect leaves from old tea trees for delivery to the Ecolink plant. Photo: Ecolink’s file



Locals collect tea leaves for the preparation of everyday drinks. Photo: Ecolink’s file



Tea leaves are harvested by the traditional method to maintain its original taste.Photo: Ecolink’s file

 

 Currently, three large Ecolink plants in Bac Ha (Lao Cai province), Quang Binh (Ha Giang province) and Tam Duong (Lai Chau province) operate with a total capacity of 150tonnes of products per year, providing exports to Europe and North America.
The company has auxiliary factories to produce organic tea, such as the plant in Di Linh (Lam Dong province) and Xamneua (Laos). In addition, the company invested in the construction of a seed and fertilizer plant, so as not to depend on suppliers and to fully control each stage of tea production.



Processing tea.Photo: Ecolink’s file


A stage in processing tea of an Ecolink plant.  Photo: Ecolink’s file

Drying tea in the sun. Photo: Ecolink’s file


An organic tea of Ecolink. Photo: Ecolink's file


Ecolink black organic tea, certified by the organic production of the United States and Thailand, is consistently consumed in the European market. Photo: Ecolink’s file.


A black tea product of Ecolink. Photo: Ecolink'f file

If on the Vietnamese market a kilogram of tea costs on average two US dollars, then in the European market a kilogram of exportable tea “Ecolink” is sold at a price of eight US dollars, and the price of high-end tea products is 150 US dollars. This indicates that Ecolink organic tea is really a quality product and is well received in such markets as Europe, America and Canada.

Story: Bich Van - Photos: Ecolink's files