Hanoi (VNA) – Five years after the creation of her company, Chau Ngoc Diu, a Khmer born in 1982 in An Giang (South), has achieved great success with a local product: palm sugar.
With the slogan “Natural and pure palm sugar for health”, the Palmania company of Chau Ngoc Diu sells about 3.6 tons of sugar in the market every year, generating more than 1.2 billion VND in revenue. , six times more than when he debuted in 2017-2018. It has created jobs for dozens of Khmer households.
Currently, it markets two types of palm sugar: dried in a 300 g paper bag and condensed in 250 and 600 g glass jars.
Ms. Diu is proud of her products which “outclass” others in terms of nutritional intake. ”Palmania palm sugar from the Bay Núi region of An Giang contains a vitamin B12 content of 28.2 μg/100g, compared to around 20μg in other countries. In addition, the product has a low glycemic index and is an alkaline food. It is therefore considered a natural sweetener good for health.
Chau Ngoc Diu’s childhood was linked to the sugar palm (thôt nôt) in the Bay Núi (literally ”Seven Mountains”) area of An Giang.
Graduated in finance-accounting from An Giang University in 2004, she applied to a bank. Nine years later, Diu joined a financial company for a salary of over 2,000 USD/month. This new job allowed him to contact many local workers who had to leave to work across the border due to lack of stable employment in their native country.
One day, tasting palm sugar imported from Thailand, she had the idea of capturing the domestic market for this product, then exporting it. ”If the deal succeeds, I will also be able to create more jobs for the local inhabitants,” she said to herself.
The sugar palm is a symbolic tree of An Giang province. It has a lifespan of more than 100 years and does not bear fruit until it is 30 years old. The districts of Tri Tôn and Tinh Biên have nearly 70,000 feet, allowing the production of approximately 8,000 tons of sugar each year.
This specialty is made from the nectar of flowers. This is cooked in a large frying pan for several hours, regularly stirred by means of a machine until the liquid becomes condensed and amber. This type of sugar is difficult to mold if not mixed with granulated sugar, but this method causes the product to lose its typical aroma and mild sweet taste.
In early 2017, the young woman began to learn about the palm sugar production process in her native region. She identified the steps to be perfected to improve the quality of the product while maintaining its taste.
And in June of the same year, Diu and a friend founded the Palmania Joint Stock Company which was headquartered in Ho Chi Minh City and then moved in August 2019 to Tri Tôn district in An Giang.
Thanks to Diu, local farmers were able to sell sugar for 2.5 times more. However, only four families cooperated with her. Because its new production process requires them to climb the palm tree every two days and it takes twice as long to cook the sugar.
Despite the dissuasion of her many relatives and friends, Diu was still determined to carry out her project. She even locked herself in her kitchen for nearly a month trying to make her first 10 kilos of sugar. Then she turned to mechanical experts to set up machines. But all refused him because of the complexity of the products required. It then took him nearly two years to find the right dryer.
”Made in Vietnam” that exports well
In 2020, thanks to a research article published in a scientific journal in Thailand, Diu better understood the properties of the nectar of thôt nôt flowers. Then, a Vietnamese expert living in Australia collaborated with her. Their research resulted in a good drying method, allowing the natural flavor of palm sugar to be retained.
In the same year, the Khmer woman finally reaped the fruits of her labor by participating in the ”Great Taste Awards” contest held in the UK, where she won two stars (out of three). Considered the ”Oscars of the culinary world”, this food prize is the most coveted in the world. Before Palmania, only two companies in the world had won the award with the same product.
In his native country, his products are recognized by the program ”To each commune, his product” (One Commune One Product – OCOP). In addition, Palmania condensed palm sugar from the Bay Núi region has become an exclusive brand, certified by the National Intellectual Property Office of Vietnam (under the Ministry of Science and Technology).
From these successes, Chau Ngoc Diu received the first orders to export to demanding markets such as England, Finland, the Netherlands… A branch of his company was opened in the latter country to facilitate commercial promotion. – CVN/VNA