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Where East meets West

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“My uncle and my father, who have a Chinese, Vietnamese and Cambodian background, fled the unstable situation in Southeast Asia in the 1980s and immigrated to France, where they began a new life,” points out President Philippe Chieu. “They saw strong potential for Asian products and started transforming French raw products like meat and fish into traditional Asian dishes.”

The strict adherence to quality enabled them to expand in the market, employing new staff and even exporting their products to other European countries. Pork, beef and, to a lesser extent, even fish form the basis for typically Vietnamese and Chinese products that are prepared fresh at Hoa Nam’s production sites in and outside Paris. Here, the company employs a workforce of 86 people today.

“Nem is probably our main product. This Vietnamese sausage is offered pre-cooked and can be either heated up in the oven or fried. It is also possible to buy it freshly prepared for direct preparation,” explains Mr. Chieu.

For the Nem rolls, meat or fish and vegetables are rolled into mint leaves and lettuce leaves, and they can be dipped into a special sauce. It is highly popular in France. Ongoing success for the Franco-Asian company is closely linked to changing eating habits, with more people enjoying snacks today. Asian lunches are more and more popular.

“People are working longer hours and do not share their main meal at home. Thus, a quick but healthy lunch is the best alternative. We are benefitting from this trend. In addition, people are eating less pork and prefer poultry. As a result, we are producing more poultry products nowadays,” says Mr. Chieu. Hoa Nam sells its fresh and frozen products mainly to the B2B segment, with Asian supermarkets, wholesalers and caterers being its major customers.

“We aim to expand our market position by entering French food retailing. There are still many end consumers who want to purchase Asian products when doing their daily shopping, but do not go to an Asian speciality store,” points out Mr. Chieu.

The company has already taken the necessary steps by teaming up with the French supermarket chain Carrefour, which now lists Hoa Nam’s products. “We are well known for our quality. We use only French raw materials,” adds Mr. Chieu. Hoa Nam will continuously introduce new products that adapt to current food trends, like a gluten-free diet.

“Innovation is key. We have now even introduced a Nem variation that can be heated up in the microwave,” stresses Mr. Chieu, who is confident that expansion in France and beyond will continue.

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