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April 11, 2017 | The Vietnam PET market, a tropical storm and Cambodia

I am on my way to Ngoc Nghia, pretty much the go-to place here for PET processing. The company operates several factories in Vietnam, producing preforms, closures and bottles and boasts a market share of approximately 75% for beverages and 25% food and non-food sectors.

Today I’m visiting two of the production plants, which takes up almost a complete day, because the traffic is once again nose to tail. It takes nearly an hour and a half to get to the first factory. R & D Office Mr Musa welcomes me and leads me amongst serried ranks of ultra-modern Husky injection moulding and Sacmi compression moulding equipment. For lunch, we go to a nearby restaurant with delicious local dishes. With the heat so ferocious, I try to position myself near to the fans but sadly, this has only limited success. After the meal we continue to the second factory, where there is further preform production.

Drenched with sweat, I sit with Mr Tam during the afternoon drive back to the city, then, thanks to the Uber app, I hop onto a scooter taxi to Bui Vien Street, a sort of party mile, where there are several local establishments offering great food.

On Wednesday, I have another appointment with Ngoc Nghia, but this time at the Vietcom Tower in the city centre, where Ms Ruby, part of the entrepreneur’s family, organises a question and answer session divulging further exciting facts about Ngoc Nghia and the future for the Vietnamese PET sector. In the early afternoon, I managed to find a little time to immerse myself in the local atmosphere and capture a few impressions of the city with my camera. The small sales cart filled with PET bottles made a great impression on me and they are practically everywhere. No chance of slaking your thirst though!

It is Thursday and I am in an industrial area outside the city (unfortunately rather late thanks to the traffic) where Mr. Schröder, deputy director, welcomes me in his local representative office of the German company Röders Tec. In addition to machine parts, Röders has recently also been producing blow moulds in-house for the PET industry in Vietnam, Thailand and Taiwan, and is looking to expand this segment. This will be a short day, because tomorrow (Friday) I am visiting the Calofic factory, a follow up to my visit last week.

On a vast area with moorings for oil tankers, Calofic processes various cooking oils for its various brands.

It is the weekend and I am waiting for take-off at Ho Chi Minh international airport. As the aircraft is boarding, a huge tropical storm breaks out almost at the same time, and I watch the proceedings from the window. Naturally, taking off is impossible. At ground level, visibility is zero, and the runway is a virtual swimming pool. After a delay of more than an hour we finally take to the air, heading towards my next destination: Phnom Penh in Cambodia. Early in the evening we reach our destination, which is about 200km away. Needless to say, the drive to my hotel takes twice as long as the entire flight: the roads, unsurprisingly, are absolutely chock a block... After such a journey it is even chill-out time for drinktec mascot Flowy with its favourite Aloe Vera drink!

New week, new appointments! Despite intensive efforts we were not able to get appointments with Coca-Cola and Cambrew. Instead, I’m now visiting the Khmer Brewery or Khmer Beverages, as they are now known. The market leader in beer has just installed a high-end plant from Krones in the factory, on which now for the first time soft drinks in PET are to be run. Hitherto, the family business had been completely dedicated to glass bottles, cans and kegs, but they had recognised new opportunities in the local market, and were now launching their own new product range. To my astonishment, President Peter Leang greets me with a camera crew, complete with drone, for great videos and photos of my visit. Quite an experience!

The visit to the brewery marked the end of my exciting time here reporting on the PET situation in Vietnam and Cambodia. Our tour expert in chief Alex Büchler will be stepping seamlessly into the driving seat and in a few days he will be reporting on the next stage of our tour to Malaysia and Singapore!

Enjoy!

Yours
Kay Barton