The Hanoitimes – Poland has emerged as a lucrative market for Vietnamese businesses in recent times.
Yet, it is not easy to enter this market without carefully studying local consumer tastes.
Poland, the sixth largest market of the European Union, is home to approximately 40,000 Vietnamese expatriates and tens of thousands of nationals from China and other Asian countries, making it a potential consumer of commodities from Asia, including Vietnam.
Since Vietnam and Poland established bilateral relations more than half a century ago, a variety of Vietnamese goods, from food and foodstuffs, seafood, vegetables and fruits to dried items and spices, have been favourites with Polish people.
Nguyen Duc Thanh, Vietnamese trade counsellor to Poland, says most high-quality products by branded Vietnamese and foreign joint venture businesses have gained a market niche in Poland, meeting EU quality regulations.
Meanwhile, small and medium-sized enterprises, including foreign invested, still find it difficult to penetrate this market, due to their inconsistent product quality, substandard designs and patterns, and poor forwarding, delivery and logistical services.
Thanh reveals that Polish importers are conscious about the price of the products and compare them with similar products from other countries.
In addition, Poland is not too demanding a market, as this EU economy is in its transformation process and its GDP per capita is lower than in other EU member countries.
The trade counsellor, however, warns that Vietnamese businesses should keep their eye on product quality if they want to gain a firm foothold on this market, because Polish consumers are now more careful about imports.
To penetrate deep into the Polish market, Thanh suggests businesses should invest more in building and developing brands alongside market research, trade promotions and post-sale services.
Top priority is given to product quality, then prices, he says.
Obviously commodities exported to Poland must meet EU quality regulations. Food and foodstuff batches undergo strict quality examinations to see if the products meet food safety and hygiene standards.
Polish people also show interest in environmentally friendly products and the control of hazardous substances contained in imports.
Thanh says businesses should take advantage of the strong development of associations of Vietnamese nationals, which now number 70.
The Vietnamese Trade Office has worked closely with Vietnamese businesses that run trade centres and showrooms in Poland, to establish long-term and stable distribution networks for Vietnamese products.
This offers reliable support for Vietnamese businesses tapping into a market of 40 million consumers, and a broader market of 300 million consumers, because Poland is the gateway to Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Baltic countries, and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
Vietnam and the EU have undergone several rounds of free trade agreement negotiations, and once the FTA is signed, it will open the door for Vietnamese products to enter the EU and Poland in particular.
According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Vietnamese exports to Poland hit US$27 million in June 2013, up 32.5 percent from a year earlier.