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Organica GES© Case Study

Vietnam: Organica

Organica – Leading retailer and wholesaler of organic food & beverages in Vietnam

Overview

Organica (the “Company”) is a leading retailer and wholesaler of organic & natural food and beverages in Vietnam, based in Ho Chi Minh City. Recognizing the inadequacies of Vietnam’s conventional food system, the Company was founded in 2011 by Ms. Pham Phuong Thao who believes that every Vietnamese has the right to access clean, safe and healthy food to help communities live healthy lifestyle.

Organica sources its products from farms that are either completely organic, hold organic certifications by the USDA and EU, or are working towards the standards required for organic certification. Besides the fresh organic produce farmed by the Company and sourced from various partner contract farms, Organica stores provide consumers with a wide range of internationally sourced organic packaged foods.

Organica sells its products through three main channels: retail, wholesale and e-commerce. There are currently eight company-owned, grocery-style retail outlets located in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Da Nang. Organica also sells through a network of over 15 provincial food retailers/supermarkets in over 10 provinces/cities across the country. Its e-commerce has been gaining traction with the launch of a full functioning online ordering system.

In addition to providing in-store customers with organic produce, meats and packaged products, Organica also offers relevant information about the products themselves and informs consumers about their  benefits on consumers, communities and the environment.

In response to consumers’ growing concern for their health and well-being, Ms. Thao has carefully curated her merchandise to meet the growing demand for organic food.  She follows a strict selection process, focusing on product traceability and certification. Ms. Thao also pays special attention to soil preparation and improvement, selecting land that complies with stringent criteria and farming methods such as crop rotation and intercropping alongside soil preparation and nutritional supplements for pest control.

Key Facts

Current Activities

Thao manages Organica with the support of a team of women who have been instrumental in expanding the business, including the opening of new retail outlets and a central warehouse which increases the stores’ product selection. The Company has also taken a new step in the development of Ready-To-Eat products, with the setup of a studio kitchen inside the head office, and the delivery of some test products to customers for piloting.

The Company has also cooperated with Grab Mart app to enhance its home delivery services.

Organica’s SEAF Gender Equality Score©

Food Safety in Vietnam

  • With food safety a growing concern in Vietnam, more citizens are turning towards products with higher food safety standards, according to an AC Nielsen’s 2015 report on consumer trends. 86% of interviewed Vietnamese consumers would prefer local, natural and organic food products when they are available and affordable.
  • Food insecurity and nutritional disparities still affect millions of Vietnamese adults, particularly women and children​. Vietnam has reported a sharp decline in nutritional and health outcomes among children, with increasing prevalence of underweight and stunted children. Anemia represents a persistent issue, particularity among pregnant women and children under 5 years of age.
  • Demand for ‘clean and fresh’ food is driven by Vietnam’s younger population (50% of pop.) and working mothers with busier and modern lifestyles.

Women Economic Empowerment Highlights

Pay Equity

  • Organica demonstrates pay equity with 1.64 women/men compensation ratio and over 95% women in the top 10% compensated
  • The Company has compensation practices in line with increasing levels of women’s economic empowerment and gender equality

Benefits & Professional Development

  • SEAF supported the Company in issuing the first Employee Manual with all policies being compliant with current Labor Law, Social Insurance Law and other regulations including leave and insurance for employees
  • At Organica, sales staff and shippers are covered by accidental insurance which is above the current government regulations
  • Ms. Thao takes time to educate her staff about the benefits of organic products and consistently imparts the inspiration and mission behind Organica

Workforce Participation

  • Women comprise 75% of all full-time employees, totaling 38 women
  • Most sales staff are women. Women’s staff turnover has been high and is an area of focus for the SEAF WEE Team
  • The Company has announced to staff its recruitment and retention strategy and policies to ensure women’s economic empowerment and gender equality within the Company

Workplace Environment

  • The issuance of the new Employee Manual was the first-time sexual harassment policies were incorporated and implemented at the Company
  • The Company has policies on environmental protection to ensure strict compliance with organic standards at its warehouses, retail stores and farms. Employees have also received training on environment protection and on their own healthy lifestyle
  • The SEAF WEE Team is working with the Company to improve its practices in occupational safety and inclusion, and its policies on transparency and respect

Leadership & Governance

  • As a woman-led business, Ms. Thao is supported is by two key individuals – Human Resources Leader and Chief Accountant which the SEAF WEE Team helped recruit. These new senior leadership hires were instrumental in driving operations efficiency and establishing financial controls and monitoring

Women Powered Value Chains

  • The Company places a high priority on ensuring the best quality products from its supply chains
  • Approximately 90% of customers are women who are responsible for household food provision and meal preparation
  • Ms. Thao applies a hands-on approach in screening and sourcing produce and products to ensure women are supported in the procurement process. She is supported by one woman who manages ordering from the local farms
  • The marketing department, which holds responsibility for formulating the Company marketing strategies and product designs, is staffed by women
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