09/02/2016 10:26 GMT+7 Email Print Like 0

Hong Lam O Mai - The “Essence of Vietnam Gifts”

Over the years, Hong Lam branded O Mai - the “Essence of Vietnam Gifts” has won the hearts of both local and international consumers. The company “revolutionised” the industrial production process for O mai (preserved sugared or salted fruit) - a traditional product which is mainly made by hand.
Hong Lam Joint-stock Company was founded by Nguyen Hong Lam in  Quang Minh Industrial Zone, Vinh Phuc Province. With a learning spirit and innovative thinking, Nguyen Hong Lam strongly developed the company and created the prestigious O mai brand in the market. The company now has 16 shops nationwide, selling a series of products which are highly appreciated  because they are delicious, clean and beautiful.

Visiting Hong Lam Company which covers 5,000m2, we were introduced to the company’s industrial production process which  not only brings high economic value but also helps keep intact the natural flavours of fruits in the traditional method.  All the products need to undergo seven stages which are strictly supervised in terms of technique and food hygiene.

Preserved sugared Sau fruit (Dracontomelon). Photo: Trinh Bo/VNP

Sugared ripe kumquats. Photo: Trinh Bo/VNP

Sugared plums. Photo: Trinh Bo/VNP

A product made from apricots. Photo: Trinh Bo/VNP

Sugared apricots. Photo: Trinh Bo/VNP

In production, there is a virtual model for tracking all the products. The company also takes great care in designing the containers. When the fruit arrives at the factory, it is checked and classified for fruit of the same size and high quality, then automatically moved to the stage of cleaning and pricking that helps the fruit easily suck up sugar. During this process, the fruit is also soaked in salty and lime flavored water  for keeping the fruit’s natural colour, reducing the bitter taste and softening and eliminating microorganisms. The stage of cooking and simmering is considered the most important because it decides the quality of the product. Therefore, it is necessary to maintain  a suitable temperature for several days.

For each type of fruit, artisans must simmer them according to the traditional method to find the most suitable and effective  way which then will be turned into a recipe and “digitalised” for automatic machines. All of these methods help every batch of O mai have the same and stable quality.  The product is then fermented and dried, meeting all required standards. The company has a basic rule of tasting. When coming up with new products, it adheres to the tasting discipline in order to ensure that there will not be a product of the same type but with different taste.

Right from the beginning, the company chose to follow the  idea of traditional products, advanced equipment and modern technology. It pursued the policy of knowledge sharing for scaling up strength and synchronised quality management that has been beneficial for Hong Lam in terms of creativity and innovation.

Traditional products are familiar to the Vietnamese people, but if  it is done by only following the traditional methods, it cannot go further or improve the business. It cannot access new markets nor can it meet the ever-changing market demands. The success of Hong Lam is due to combining industrial production methods with the talent of artisans. They are always learning new technology from Europe, applying industrial production to ensure quality.

Checking the microbiological balance of products in the lab. Photo: Trinh Bo/VNP

Pre-processing ripe Sau fruit. Photo: Trinh Bo/VNP

Tanks for soaking fruit in Hong Lam. Photo: Trinh Bo/VNP

Soaked little Sau fruit taken from tanks. Photo: Trinh Bo/VNP

An outlet of Hong Lam O mai. Photo: Trinh Bo/VNP

Miss Vietnam Ngoc Han buys products at a Hong Lam shop
which was recently opened in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: File

In order to standardise procedures, the production was digitalised and all the staff are trained in tasting and evaluation methods. Basically, each product has three sets of indicators: physical chemistry (sour, spicy, salty, sweet, humid and dry), sensory (taste and appearance) and micro-organisms. These indicators help Hong Lam manage by numbers as well senses. It is also capable of customising products in terms of size and ripeness despite the industrial production which is from  the concept of the Japanese “automatic eye”, a combination of man and equipment, supervised by artisans, engineers and workers.

Due to the application of soft management and technology methods, the operation no longer depends on the seasons and the factories can operate all year round. The key here is to solve high pressure processing to achieve year-round production. Each year, the company provides the market with tens of tonnes of O mai and reaches an annual increase of 10%.  Hong Lam products have become the favourite daily snack and are present in many homes during Tet.

Story: Thao Vy - Photos: Trinh Van Bo