Vietnam Time

5/15/2019 9:54:24 AM

Fun facts behind the made-in-Vietnam non-plastic straws

The city of Sa Dec, Dong Thap province in the Mekong Delta is where the edible made-in-Vietnam straw was invented. Made from 100% natural ingredients, the product is not only safe for consumers’ health, but more importantly, contributing to saving the Earth from plastic waste.

Purple made-from-rice-flour straws. Photo: Ngoc Tai

Vo Minh Khang, CEO of Hung Hau Food Co., Ltd. is the inventor of edible straws. He recently shares with the Young Knowledges (Tri Thuc Tre) some fun facts about this distinctive products.

Edible straws, inspired by penne

Through online reference sources and field trips to several countries, Khang found out that, plastic straws are no longer welcomed in developed countries, as they are one of the factors causing pollution. Many others were trying to produce straws using non-plastic materials but was not successful.

Since Khang was running a penne manufacturing plant, he came up with the idea of making straw from rice flour. "I found it very interesting, and decided to conduct further research. Seeing places like Nhieu Loc Canal filled with plastic straws, thought that I should do something to contribute to the field of waste-reduction technology."

Promising overseas markets

Currently Khang's company's production line has a capacity of producing 100,000 straws / day, equal to around 1 tonne.

In February, the second line was put into operationrising production capacity by 5 times. Khang has secured orders from Korea, Japan as well as from domestic clients.

"We got orders from our frequent customers in food industry, who were interested in the products. At the beginning, we target countries that are moving away from products that are harmful to the environment to better substitutes.  

Currently, we have got 3 export orders. They requested one container per month with the weight of 16 tons. In fact, we are observing market response, and if the products are well received, we will increase the quantity. In the other hand, our factory is still very new, with limited capacity, therefore we cannot rush.   

In the first 3 months, we will provide them 20-30 tons / month, later rising to 70-80 tons / month.   

Vo Minh Khang, the inventor of rice-flour straws working on the product line. Photo: Ngoc Tai

Positive domestic market response 

Vietnamese people are aware of plastic straws issue. Currently, young people are highly aware of environmental protection and try to replace plastic items with subtitute option. We believe in the long run, this trend will be widespread in Vietnam. A lot of people have asked me about this product.

Currently I have an order from a distributor in Vietnam for very large quantity. 

Most difficult stage in manufacturing

According to Khang, the most difficult step is how to ensure the durability of the product, making it elastic without using any artificial plasticizer. "I wanted to produce “green” straws to protect the environment and humans’ health. That’s why I have to find a way to adapt things based on the key ingredients of raw rice flour (80%), the rest are wheat flour, tapioca starch and fruits, vegetables to add colors to the straw," Khang said, emphasizing that his straws can be stored in common condition for about 18 months. When consumers use them, the product are able to stay in shape when contact with water for at least 30 minutes.  

Are the non-plastic straws really edible?

"They are made to be used in water. After use, they will quickly decompose. I recommend not to eat, but it is not harmful if you eat, as they are basically flour, which has been processed to remove all the  microorganisms", said Khang.

Potential to expand

Currently, the market response to the products has been very positive. We have prepared to increase the capacity to serve the needs of a huger market. I am trying to find ways to reduce production costs, to lower the price, helping more people get access to the product.  

While doing business, everyone wants profit, that's for sure. However, at the same time, I think businesses still should contribute something to the society. I want to make larger number of flour straws, with good quality at reasonable price so that everyone can use it, to protect the environment. If this product is only for those of middle class or the rich, it will not benefit the society./.

  ( Translated by P.Y )
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