Success Stories: Exploring opportunities for Australian and Asian food entrepreneurs

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Asialink Business and Monash College recently ran a forum on what makes a successful international food business. The forum was chaired by Mark Crosby, Director, Bachelor of Business, Monash University with panellists Ryan Ching, Co-Founder, Banh Mi Kitchen, Hong Kong and Angeline Achariya, CEO, Monash Food Innovation Centre.

Angeline discussed the increasing consumer interest in where our food comes from and the debate around whether we will have enough resources for future food production. This provoked an interesting debate about scalable solutions for sustainable packaging and managing food waste. She reiterated Australia’s reputation in Asia as clean and green and the need to protect that reputation. She reminded the audience of the importance of starting with the consumer in order to create value.

Ryan Ching began his Asian based business in Vietnam. Coming from Melbourne, ryan relocated to Vietnam to set up a sales and manufacturing ite for an Australian flavours business. Ryan provided a very real view of what it is like to start a new business in a country where he didn’t speak the language and where cultural practices were quite unfamiliar.

After the Vietnam business was self-sustaining and operational, Ryan moved to Hong Kong where he is the co-founder of Viet Banh Mi Kitchen in Hong Kong, with their products illustrated below.

He explained the reasons why he chose to go it alone rather than partner with a Vietnamese or Hong Kong business partner. Ryan has two shops in Hong Kong and is looking to expand further. His biggest insight was from the need to understand the culture and taste preferences of offering an authentic product to a new market.

Ryan continues to have great success selling Banh Mi to customers already familiar with the product, but has found it tougher appealing to the local Hong Kongers. As a result he is constantly tinkering with the product offering to keep to traditional Vietnamese flavours whilst also providing subtle changes to increase its appeal to a broader market.

If you’re interested in speaking to either Angeline or Ryan, please email food.innovation@ecodev.vic.gov.au

 

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