Friday, August 30, 2013

Vietnam seeks investors for edible bird’s nest industry

Posted by  on August 20, 2013

Birds nestEdible bird’s nests, made of solidified saliva of Asian swiftlets, are becoming more and more popular as the hunger for one of the most expensive foods keeps rising among Asia’s middle class.

The soaring appetite stems mainly from China, but in countries such as Vietnam bird’s nest are also experiencing rising demand.

The global market is currently estimated at as much as $5 billion, mainly catering to wealthy East Asian and US consumers. The main producers of the specialty food, Malaysia and Indonesia, are now being challenged by Vietnam which is seeking investors to boost the bird’s nest industry.

Edible nests sell for $1,000-$1,500 per kilogramme wholesale and about $2,500 per kilogramme for end-consumers in Asia. Called the "Caviar of the East", traders are now also looking for new markets such as the Gulf countries and offer not just nests, but also derived products such as cosmetics, porridge, jelly and coffee.

Indonesia produces about 70 per cent of the world’s bird’s nest, followed by Malaysia with 20 per cent, and Thailand. Vietnam through it investment firm VinaCapital Group is now aiming to set up production zones for bird’s nests together with investors. A company, Yen Viet Joijnt Stock Co, has already been founded that launched a 100,000 bird firm in central Vietnam.

Vietnam’s bird’s nest industry, estimated to generate $200 million in revenue a year, is increasing as much as 25 per cent annually, industry experts say.

In coastal Phan Rang Tham Cham city, local officials are working on expanding the province’s bird’s nest industry to 2.8 million birds by 2020. The largest bird nest house in the province nowgenerates about $50,000 of bird’s nests monthly, according to a Bloomberg report.

Edible bird’s nests, consumed in China since 400 years, are supposedly rich in nutrients, which are traditionally believed to provide health benefits such as aiding digestion, raising libido, improving the voice, alleviating asthma, improving focus and an overall benefit to the immune system. Currently, Hong Kong and the US are the largest importers of bird’s nests. For rare red nests, the price-per-kilogramme can reach up to $10,000.

The most famous use of edible birds nest is bird’s nest soup, a delicacyin Chinese cuisine. In addition, edible bird’s nests can be used as an ingredient in many other dishes, they can be cooked with rice to produce bird’s nest congee (rice porridge) or bird’s nest boiled rice, or it can be added to egg tarts and other desserts. Ready to eat bird’s nest jelly is available in jars as a commercial product. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Town of Swallows set to soar by Lian Cheng,

DRIVING across Sarawak, hopping from town to town, most people would have passed by Sarikei,  the Town of Swallows without having much impression of the place. But if one cared to look deeper by learning more about the town from the locals, one would know that Sarikei, though classified as a second-tier town, is enchanting with a lot to offer.

For starters, the place produces excellent pineapples and one is reminded of the fact when passing by the two big icons of the fruit, situated strategically at two different parts of the town. Sarikei pineapples are, indeed, something the Division should be proud of. They are well-known for their sweetness and crunchiness which cannot be found in other pineapple species or the same species planted elsewhere.

“Our pineapples are of the Maruritious variety which thrive on Sarikei peat soil which is inundated by saline water during high tide once or twice annually. Due to the soil type, the pineapples grown here are crispy and tasty. “There was an attempt to plant the same species elsewhere. But Sarikei pineapples grown elsewhere cannot match those (of the same species) grown here,” Sarikei Chinese community leader Pemanca Frederick Wong told thesundaypost.

Sweet-sour juicy
Apart from pineapples, Sarikei is also known for its green oranges which are sweet-sour juicy. “The green oranges here are unique. When farmers in Bintangor first moved the green orange trees into their gardens, they failed to produce fruits as good as those of Sarikei.

“Later, they discovered if they were to put some salt on the tree mounts, they were able to do so. The practice has been in use since,” Frederick explained. Pineapples and green oranges aside, if one were to stay longer and get to know the place, one would find Sarikei far from being just a simple town with no character or personality.

In fact, even its very nature of being a simple town has been something that makes it stand out among others, especially in time of economic downturn. “The people here are very thrifty. They don’t live a lavish life. They save during boom and bad times – and they are able to sail through,” he added.

The fruit basket
Sarikei has been known as The Fruit Basket of Sarawak where there is a long history of agricultural activities such as the planting of rubber, pepper, pineapples, green oranges and other seasonal crops. Even until now, the Division is still the biggest pepper exporter.As early as the 1950’s, engkabang (illipe nuts) was also one of export items to Holland. Due to intense logging, the production of engkabang has greatly decreased and now, export of this jungle produce is almost nil.

Between the 1950’s and 80’s, Sarikei was the trading centre, serving the surrounding towns of Pakan, Pantu and Bintangor from where various agricultural produce would be sent to Sarikei to be traded. Agricultural activities among the Chinese there have been on the decline as the younger generation is moving away from the town to work abroad, leaving behind elderly farmers and farm hands.

“There are now very few young farm hands around. Most prefer earning big salaries in other parts of the world such as Singapore, Papua New Guinea, South American, Solomon Islands and Africa,” Frederick noted.

However, Sarikei’s long history in agriculture still makes it strong economically although sole dependence on agricultural activities has ceased to be the main income-earner for the Division. While other traditional agricultural activities have been slowing down, small-scale oil palm planting and swiftlet farming are gaining significance in Sarikei.

The former has been taken up by the Iban community while the latter mainly by Chinese businessmen and also some of their Iban counterparts.
FOR THE BIRDS: These fortresses are meant for swiftlets, not men.

Colourful swiftlet farmhouses
Driving around Sarikei, it’s difficult to miss colourfully-painted swiftlet farmhouses that stand out from their surroundings. “The swiftlet farmhouses here are characterised by their bright colours. There are so many of them and their colours so distinctive that they have become part of Sarikei’s characteristics,” Sarikei Resident Michael Dawi Alli said.

Within the administrative Division of Sarikei, the Chinese constitute 70 per cent of the 60,000 population while the Iban and the rest 30 per cent. 

Basically, a Chinese area, the town recently regained its former reputation as the state’s trade centre through competitively priced goods, quality services and products.
“Small in population as we are, there are about eight to 10 supermarkets of various scale in Sarikei town.
“These supermarkets offer very competitive prices, attracting people from Pakan, Spaoh, Saratok, Loban, Sessang, Julau, Pusa and even as far as Beladin to do their shopping in Sarikei,” the Pemanca said.
GOLDEN ATTRACTIONS: Apart from Chinese herbs, the gold in Sarikei is cheaper than in other parts of the state.

Cheaper herbs and gold
Two very obvious examples of cheaper merchandise compared to other parts of Sarawak are Chinese herbs and gold. Sarikei has been offering very reasonably priced Chinese herbs — and its Eight Precious Herbs are famous for their modified combination which Sibu customers find more acceptable and tastier.

The Chinese, especially the Foochows, will make a special trip from Sibu to buy the herbs while those from Bintulu or Kuching will acquire some before continuing with their journey. Chinese herb business owner Ling Soo Ming, 40, believed outstation customers made the effort to come due to the better deals her shop offered.

“To have a competitive edge, we offer cheaper prices. That way, though we have a lower profit margin, we can make it up by making more sales,” said Ling who set up the business with her husband, Ling Sien Chung, 45.

Gold accessory shopowner Wong Hua Ting, 53, said Sarikei has been selling the preciouis metal at a cheaper price than Sibu and other parts of Sarawak for many years. According to Hua Ting, the gold sold in Sarikei is RM2 or RM3 per gram cheaper than in Sibu and RM5 per gram cheaper than in Kuching and Bintulu.

Wong and the Pemanca both claimed cheaper price of goods had been possible in Sarikei by cheaper rentals and lower living costs. Frederick noted: “It has been a conscious strategy businessmen came to realise after many years of trial and error.”
It is the result of more than a decade of persistence and consistency, hard work and sincerity of the Sarikei business community that has finally established the town as one that offers “cheaper but good quality” goods.

Road connectivity
Apart from the good business acumen of the residents, thriving economic activities in Sarikei have also been due to the good road connectivity, especially after the construction of two bridges. Sarikei town is surrounded on three sides by Batang Rajang, Sungei Sarikei and Sungei Nyelong. With the completion of Sarikei Bridge and Nyelong Bridge, the town is very well linked.

What is now lacking is a few bridges to link the town to Tanjung Manis, now reachable in 30 minutes by expressboat. Meanwhile, Michael Dawi said all facilities were in place for the town to be further developed into a high-income economy.

Sarikei, now the fifth largest town in Sarawak after Kuching, Miri, Sibu and Bintulu, is looking forward to the construction of the 15km-road linking it to Tanjung Manis. “When this proposed road is completed, Sarikei too will benefit from Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (Score) and its Halal Hub where our strength lies in our food and agro-based products,” Michael said.

Proud of its tagline Sarikei Towards an Agro-polis, the Resident believes the Division has been moving in the right direction and will achieve its dream of becoming one of the most popular towns in Sarawak.
“The next step is to modernise the farming sector,” he said.

Sarikei is not far from its dream. It has been producing fresh fruits and vegetables to serve other towns such as Sibu, Bintulu and Miri. With continuous efforts to carve a distinctive identity for itself, coupled with a progressive local business community, Sarikei will emerge as one of the most popular and productive Divisions in the state.
A BARGAIN: Even the birdnests in Sarikei are cheaper than those in Sibu.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Vietnam Seeks Millions for Edible Bird Spit Industry

The edible nests, shown here cleaned and soaked, are as much as 70 percent protein, one reason aristocracy has consumed the delicacy for thousands of years, according to Massimo Marcone, an associate professor of food science at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada. Photographer: Jerry Redfern/LightRocket via Getty Images
The edible nests, shown here cleaned and soaked, are as much as 70 percent protein, one reason aristocracy has consumed the delicacy for thousands of years, according to Massimo Marcone, an associate professor of food science at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada. Photographer: Jerry Redfern/LightRocket via Getty Images

In Vietnam (VEGDYOY), where the average income is $151 a month, Mai Vu and husband David Nguyen routinely spend $250 on edible bird’s nest.

The couple accounts for the soaring appetite among Vietnam’s young and upwardly mobile population for one of the world’s most expensive foods, congealed saliva of Asian swiftlets. The country’s expanding middle class hungers for healthy food. Bird’s nest is believed to ward off diseases and feeds a growing demand for luxury products.

“It’s one of the most valuable products one can give to those who have everything,” said Vu, 28, who works at an international bank in Hanoi and was shopping for bird’s nest for her toddler daughter at a new, upscale mall. “You want to impress people.”

The demand for bird’s nest, once reserved for emperors and their courts, has created a global market with annual revenue as high as $5 billion that caters to Asia’s growing wealthy consumers, said Tok Teng Sai, president of the Federation of Malaysian Bird’s Nest Merchants Association. Vietnam is racing to catch up with Malaysia andIndonesia, the region’s top producers of the delicacy, and cash in on the demand.

“People have a lot of money now, especially people in China,” Tok said.

Caviar of the East

Known as the “caviar of the East,” edible nests sell for $1,000-$1,500 per kilogram wholesale and about $2,500 per kilogram retail, according to Le Danh Hoang, founder of Ho Chi Minh City-based NutriNest.

“A lot of people are making a ton of money,” said Loke Yeu Loong, group managing director of Malaysia’s Swiftlet Eco Park, which produces an array of bird’s nest-based products, from coffee to skincare, and is targeting the Middle East as a new market.

Indonesia produces about 70 percent of the world’s bird’s nest, followed by Malaysia with 20 percent, Tok said.

In Vietnam, demand for bird’s nest is spawning a cottage industry that has attracted investment from VinaCapital Group Ltd., the nation’s largest fund manager, and helping mint new millionaires. Provincial governments are also jumping in to set up bird’s nest production zones to spur jobs and exports.

Nest Porridge

In mid-2011, VinaCapital invested $7.5 million in a bird house in central Vietnam with about 100,000 birds, one of the nation’s largest, said Dang Pham Minh Loan, VinaCapital’s deputy managing director. The firm recently increased its stake to 65 percent in the company, Yen Viet Joint Stock Co., which is expanding into bird’s nest porridge with the aim of capitalizing on Vietnam’s growing health-foods market, she said.

“Chinese and Vietnamese are the top consumers of bird’s nest,” Loan, who is also chief executive officer of Yen Viet, said in an e-mail. “They have a very strong belief it can deliver a lot of health benefits, especially anti-aging and improvement to the immune system.”

The edible nests are as much as 70 percent protein, one reason aristocracy has consumed the delicacy for thousands of years, according to Massimo Marcone, an associate professor of food science at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada.

Some Vietnamese say bird’s nest has other powers, including keeping bodies youthful for decades.

Vietnam’s bird’s nest industry, estimated to generate $200 million in revenue a year, is increasing as much as 25 percent annually, Loan said.

Bird Millionaires

Concrete, four-story structures replicating the natural coastal cave habitat of the birds have been erected across Vietnam among paddy fields and neighborhoods to capitalize on the boon. After an initial investment of $70,000 to $500,000 to build a bird structure, and monthly costs of about $50, a successful house can earn its owners as much as $1 million annually, said Hoang, who founded a Ho Chi Minh City-based bird’s nest business as a college student in 2005 and now advises provincial governments on the industry.

Hoang’s company operates eight bird houses and 13 retail stores. He also sells material needed to set up a structure and make birds feel at home -- including swiftlet feces that’s smeared on floors and sound systems that play recordings of swiftlets chirping.

There is no guarantee that investing in a bird house will pay off, Hoang said. Many structures fail to attract birds and there is the danger disease could hit a bird house, Hoang said.

“It’s a fairly high-risk industry,” he said.

Government Support

In coastal Phan Rang Tham Cham city, officials are working on a plan to expand the province’s bird nest industry to 2.8 million birds by 2020, said Le Trong, head of the city’s economic development.

The largest bird nest house in the province now generates about $50,000 of bird’s nest monthly, he said.

In 2011, China banned edible nests from Malaysia after authorities discovered high levels of nitrate in them. Loke of the Swiftlet Eco Park attributed the problem to traders who used processes involving bird droppings and other chemicals to color the nests red, considered by many Chinese as the most nutritious.

In Malaysia, “the whole industry collapsed” as a result, Loke said. Tok expects the ban to end soon as China and Malaysia establish nitrate testing procedures.

In Vietnam, which was not affected by the ban, the bird’s nest industry is just taking off.

“The technological barrier is low,” said Hoang, who knows of one street in Ho Chi Minh City with 20 different bird’s nest brands. “Companies spring up like mushrooms.”

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: John Boudreau in Hanoi

To contact the editor responsible for this story: K. Oanh Ha at

Bird's Nest at a discount By DIANA YEOH |

IPOH: THE Ocean Bird Nest Sdn Bhd is promoting its bird's nest packages at a discounted rate until Sept 30.

The newly-formed outlet is located at Lot 1, First Floor, Ritz Garden Hotel at 86, Jalan Yang Kalsom, here.

The bird's nests are graded as triple A, double A, super A and A are priced from RM1,800 to RM6,500.

The outlet also offers bird's nest soup at RM80 per bowl.

Ocean Bird Nest director Tan Boon Seng said the outlet was the first in Ipoh which wholly sells genuine bird's nest and soup.

"The bird's nest is sourced locally from places such as Lumut, Ipoh, Penang and Seremban.

"The shop will enable locals to buy bird's nest at a reasonable price instead of the exorbitant prices charged in neighbouring countries.

"Bird's nest is popular with tourists and serves well as festive gifts," said Tan.

He said that bird's nest contained health properties like collagen and protein for anti-aging, adding that it was also good for reducing cough and strengthening the lungs.

The outlet opens from noon until 11pm daily. For enquiries, call 05-253 3800.

Read more: Bird's nests at a discount - Northern - New Straits Times

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Tatacara Permohonan Lesen Pemprosesan Sarang Burung Walit


Kali ini saya akan menulis tatacara berkaitan permohonanan perlesenan premis pemprosesan sarang burung walit untuk memudahkan pembinaan atau penubuhan  loji di Negeri Sarawak. Di Semenanjung dan Sabah premis pemprosesan adalah dibawah bidang kuasa Pihak Berkuasa Tempatan (PBT), manakala di Sarawak adalah dibawah State Veterinary Authority , Jabatan Pertanian Sarawak sepertimana  termaktub di dalam Veterinary Public Health Ordinance 1999. Tatacara ini tidak menyentuh permohonan lesen perladangan atau penternakan burung walit kerana ianya dibawah bidang kuasa Jabatan Hutan Sarawak iaitu Wild Life Protection Ordinance 1998.
Untuk memberi panduan permohonan lesen memproses sarang burung walit di Negeri Sarawak

Hanya untuk premis memproses sarang burung walit di lokasi yang sesuai.

1. Untuk menghasilkan produk sarang burung yang berkualiti dan selamat
2. Memenuhi keperluan minima syarat lesen

1. Pastikan tempat premis tersebut diluluskan oleh PBT
2. Dirikan kilang berpandukan GMP dan 
Isikan lengkap borang permohonan dari Pejabat Veterinar. Borang boleh dimuatturun dari
3. Kepilkan bersama sijil perdaftaran perniagaan & layout plan  premis.
4. Dapatkan komen dari NREB bagi sistem waste treatment.
5. Dapatkan laporan sokongan dari pejabat Veterinar Bahagian.
6. Laporan yang lengkap akan dibentangkan kepada Jawatankuasa Perlesenan untuk Kelulusan
7. Buat pendaftaran secara online untuk premis tersebut untuk mendapatan ID

1. Good Manufacturing Practices for EBN
2. Garis Panduan Perladangan Walit

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Growing EBN Industry by Thestar

TO ASIANS, consuming the nest of a certain species of birds is no strange thing.

In fact, the practice is growing in popularity and the producers of edible bird’s nests are sprouting all over the region as the industry is expected to grow rapidly. Malaysia alone is expected to see the swiftlet farming industry contributing RM4.5bil to gross national income by 2020.

And producers, like Swiftlet Eco Park Group, are riding the growing demand for edible bird’s nests.

Swiftlet Eco Park was established in 2004 as a developer of bird houses.

“People thought we were crazy because we were developing housing for birds when there was big demand for housing for people,” said managing director Loke Yeu Loong with a laugh, clearly amused by the thought himself.

Penetrating new markets: Loke noted that there was a need to educate consumers in its new markets on the benefits of edible bird's nest.
Penetrating new markets: Loke says there is a need to educate consumers in its new markets on the benefits of edible bird’s nest.

But the project came about as a result of trying to find a solution to the many illegal bird houses in Sitiawan, Perak, which were a nuisance to people due to their location in town areas.

The locals were complaining that the bird houses were dirty, smelly and noisy.

Swiftlet Eco Park had obtained tracts of land from the Perak government to explore plans for a swiftlet park that quickly turned out to be a fortuitous move.

“It directed the swiftlets out of towns and the park started drawing tourists as well. And it worked so well that other state governments came to study what we had built and wanted to work with us on joint ventures to build similar projects,” Loke said.

Swiftlet Eco Park currently has 14 projects in seven states and plans to build some 600 units of bird houses, in line with the Government’s target of 100,000 bird houses by 2015. The group has so far completed 70 units.

Although the group started off as purely a property developer, the potential of the edible bird’s nest business soon prove to be too tempting to resist.

Loke said swiftlet ranching started in Malaysia about 30 years ago when the birds started migrating from Indonesia due to the haze from forest clearing activities there.

Swift dive: Prices of raw bird's nest plunged from RM4,000 per kg in 2010 to below RM2,000 currently following China's ban on imports of raw bird's nest
Swift dive: Prices of raw bird’s nest plunged from RM4,000 per kg in 2010 to below RM2,000 currently following China’s ban on imports of raw bird’s nests.

Indonesia has a 100-year history of producing edible bird’s nest and is the largest producer, meeting about 78% of global demand. Malaysia is the second-largest producer at about 10%, followed by Thailand with 9%.

The local industry is estimated to be valued at RM1.5bil now with total production of 375 tonnes of edible bird’s nest a year.

Swiftlet Eco Park did not want to pass on its chance to participate in the growth of the industry and decided to keep some 200 units of the 600 bird houses that it was planning to build.

According to Loke, the cost of building a bird house is about RM500,000, which would amount to RM100mil for 200 units.

“We obviously did not have that kind of capital. So we embarked on a programme to raise funds as well as to allow other investors an opportunity to be a part of this growth industry,” he said.

Swiftlet Eco Park launched Malaysia’s first edible bird’s nest swiftlet ranching share farming interest scheme in 2010 to raise RM240mil.

Nonetheless, things have been far from smooth for the industry over the past year.

Value-added products: Swiftlet Eco Park, via its subsidiary RBN, went downstream into producing high-value bird's nest products to overcome China's ban on raw bird's nest
Value-added products: Swiftlet Eco Park, via its subsidiary RBN, went downstream into producing high-value bird’s nest products (above) to mitigate the effects of China’s ban on raw bird’s nests from Malaysia.

After the launch of the investment scheme, China, which makes up about 60% of global demand for bird’s nests, slapped a ban on imports when samples of some bird’s nests were found to contain nitrite levels that did not meet China’s health standards.

Before the ban, China was the biggest importer of Malaysia’s bird’s nest products and the trade was worth RM1bil a year.

The ban saw local prices for grade A unprocessed bird’s nests plunging from RM4,000 per kg in 2010 to between RM1,200 and RM1,500 per kg in the local market this year.

Note that the cost of processing bird’s nests here is high, between RM1,000 and RM1,500 per kg, compared to about RM350 per kg in Indonesia, due to the higher cost of labour.

With the industry hit by low prices and rising stockpiles, Swiftlet Eco Park took the opportunity to go downstream.

“We were riding on the crisis. The low prices were a good opportunity for us to develop other products because that would mean cheaper raw material for us and it made it easier to carry out R&D,” said Loke.

He added that producing and exporting bird’s nest-related products such as its bird’s nest coffee and bird’s nest supplement pills was a way of mitigating the effects of the ban on exports of raw bird’s nests into China.

“Since we couldn’t export raw bird’s nests, we overcame the ban with value-added products,” he said, adding that the company has invested some RM300,000 in R&D alone.

In June, it was reported that China had lifted the freeze on bird’s nest imports from Malaysia, allowing nine Malaysian companies to resume exports to China.

However, Loke noted that prices of raw bird’s nest are still languishing due to the large stockpiles and traders continue to struggle.

Unlike other local bird’s nest traders, supplying its products to China alone is no longer the company’s main agenda.

These days, Swiftlet Eco Park is eyeing the vast opportunities that new markets such as the US, Europe, Middle East and India have to offer.

But Loke acknowledged that educating new markets about the benefits of bird’s nest will be a challenge.

“They think we are crazy for consuming bird’s saliva!” Loke laughed.

“But once they see proof of the benefits of consuming bird’s nest, they are amazed. Also, this is where value-added products come in because they can understand bird’s nest coffee more than raw bird’s nests,” he added.

To ensure a steady stream of demand for its products, marketed under the Royal Bird’s Nest brand, Swiftlet Eco Park also set up a multi-level marketing network and will be embarking on a franchise network with the opening of its flagship outlet in the Publika mall in KL next week.

Group chief executive officer Tan Chee Hongsaid the MLM segment is expected to generate revenue of RM6mil this year, growing to RM120mil by 2017.

The franchise network will mainly cater to health and beauty treatments using bird’s nest products.

Tan is aiming for 100 franchise outlets over the next three years.

“We are moving along the value chain. We are not just competing within the industry in terms of quantity, but also in the high-end, value-added segment. Our value-creation efforts exceed RM10bil for the whole group,” said Tan.

Both Tan and Loke reiterate that there are still plenty of untapped opportunities in the industry and the group is excited to unlock this potential.