Whereas the global economic recession, a tight credit policy, and rising material prices put many companies into a spot in 2011, the Co May Private Enterprise, one of the leading rice producers in the western provinces of Vietnam, still managed to remain stable with a better-than-expected growth of 40 percent.
The Co May Soap Making Group started in 1981 with very low capital, and after operating for eight years, the group realized that it would not make a fortune from soap because of many unfavorable factors and decided to shift its focus on rice. With a small staff and little capital, Co May chose to focus on the domestic market rather than on exports.
In 2004, Co May made a sudden move in its operations by transforming into a private enterprise and building an aqua plant to produce feed for pangasius hypophthalmus and pangasius bocourti fish. “Breeding, processing, and exporting pangasius fish was promising at that time as pangasius fish is a speciality of Vietnam and abundant in the Mekong Delta, while lacking in so many countries,” Pham Van Ben, the company’s owner recalls.
“The government was also interested in developing pangasius fish breeding and with several firms building large-scale pangasius fish processing plants, and farmers in the Mekong delta provinces expanding areas for pangasius fish breeding, we decided that fish-feed would be our next long term product,” he added.
The domestic breeding food market faced fierce competition from major international corporations, of which the latter had the upper hand with huge capital resources and more experience in producing and selling. After a comprehensive market research, Mr. Ben found out that foreign groups occupied the cattle-feed and chicken-feed market whereas Vietnamese firms controlled the fish-feed market. Subsequently, he took a decision to produce fish-feed as well as breed pangasius fish at the same time.
According to Mr.Ben, breeding pangasius fish requires a lot of money. When they started, it cost around VND2.4 billion to raise 100 tons of pangasius fish, of which the cost for feed accounted to more than 70 percent. Feed plays an important role in the growth and quality of pangasius fish. Hence, Co May always sets feed quality on top priority.
Le Hong Duc, a pangasius breeder in Chau Thanh District in Dong Thap Province, said that the concern of breeders is that the price of fish-feed continually increases but the quality is not ensured. Breeders might suffer big losses if they choose poor quality fish-feed. Co May fish-feed quality is quite stable, helps fish grow well and meets export requirements. Thus, breeders feel secure in using Co May products.
Currently, most breeders in Dong Thap, An Giang, Can Tho, Vinh Long and Tien Giang provinces are using fish-feed produced by Co May Private Enterprise.
In 2008 the company’s revenue was VND466 billion, reached VND718 billion in 2010 and jumped to VND1 trillion in 2011. For a private company with only 250 employees, this revenue level is considerable.
The company has plans to build another modern plant on 3.6 hectares in Song Hau Industrial Park and is ambitiously targeting making their product into a big brand name in Vietnam.