In the early 80s, our little family got relocated to the “New Economic Areas”. In these lands, there were only a couple houses over a great expanse of land. The soil here produced one harvest of rice a year, had grasses that went over your head, and produced the biggest mosquitoes and leeches you would ever see. Tu Bong was the name of my father, and it was also the name of his own boat-making workshop. The boat was the main mode of transport for everybody back then.
Our family had many children, most were girls. Every one of us was sent to our grandparents’ place by boat to go to school during the year. We were only able to get back home during Tet or the summer holiday.
The name Tu Bong was first associated with the workshop, then a brickyard. Finally, it was put on top of the store for building materials on the bank of a river near our house. We were able to graduate from Can Tho University because of the funds we earned from it.
On the Tet holiday of 2013, our mother still made banana sweets like usual. However, she modified it for this year, and we packaged it carefully as gifts. Coming from the Mekong Delta, we were unwealthy and not able to give sophisticated gifts. Only the handmade treats made from our own lands was gifted, simple but full of love.
Everyone who received the gifts loved it, and therefore on the 4th of April, 2013, we opened up our own Tu Bong Jam production. This was our first return to where we were born, and our neighboring sisters were the first employees.
In 2014, our products made it on to the shelves in some Big C stores, under “Local delicacies”. We also got featured in many of our province as well as other nearby provinces’ delicacy stores.
From 2015 onward, we developed one new product a year. Our workforce has doubled. Our products are now known by many people, and have entered stores in big cities like Ho Chi Minh city, Hanoi, Da Nang, Nha Trang, Can Tho…
From 2016, our products have been sold at most domestic airports by our associates.
FACTORS OF FRUIT ROLL
THE ART OF PRESSING BANANA
In a tropical country like Vietnam, the banana is a plant that can appear in any province. Bananas even appear in old Vietnamese sayings.
When they are ripe, bananas will be pressed into thin slices. These slices will then be dried on interlocking coconut leaf. After drying, they will be both flexible and tough, have a dark yellow color, with a natural sweet taste coupled with a pleasant fragrance. If you eat them right there, you may even feel the unmistakable taste of sun.
Sometime ago, we know not when, there appeared a village specialized in making dried banana for Tet every year. This is something that is made only in Vietnam, and it is especially popular in the West of South Vietnam.
CARAMELIZED GINGER BANANA
Letting creativity lead the way, dried banana will be mixed with more natural treats to make the unique snack: Caramelized Ginger Banana
Shredded dried banana will be caramelized with shredded ginger then touch of peanut and sesame. The snack will usually be served by small fork with hot tea.
Sweetness of banana, warmth of ginger goes so well with the buttery yet crispy taste of peanut and sesame, creating the Yin and Yang balance treat for the Tet Holiday in Countryside.
STICKY RICE PAPER IN THE MAKING
This is a type of delicacy distinctive of the West of South Vietnam in general. However, the most famous place for it must be Son Doc (Giong Trom) of Ben Tre province and Hoa Hao (Phu My – Phu Tan) of An Giang.
Crispy cake (Sticky rice paper) is a type of flattened cake that resembles rice paper in shape. However, while rice paper is made from ordinary rice, crispy cake is made from sticky rice. When roast, the cake will expand to two times its original size. When eat, it will be spongy and dissolving, with a taste that is a combination of sugar’ sweetness, coconut’s buttery and sesame’s fragrance.
If making the cake is a labor, then baking it is an art. The apparatus used is made from the coconut leaf’ stalks. One end is used as a handle; the other will be divided into 3 or 4, then act as forks to hold the cakes in place on the fire. The cake has to be baked on stably-heated fire with the least smoke possible, and the baker will have to flip it continuously.
PROPERTIES OF BANANA ROLL:
- Natural sweetness of ripe bananas
- The warmness and fragrance of ginger
- The crispiness of peanuts and crispy cake
- All combined with the natural fattiness of coconut
FRUIT FOLL AND OTHER FRUIT SNACKS
From the original banana roll principle, we have further developed other fruit rolls by incorporating more technology and changing the way of making. From 2020, we are also developing another direction in which we use our semi-finished fruit products to combine with other fruit snack products to create new snack lines.
MISSION AND MILESTONE
Top 10 Vietnamese specialty products, available on the shelves of the Vietnamese community in the world;
As a typical model of traditional specialty making experience in the Mekong Delta, each employee is a storyteller to each customers;
Exporting the main product lines (banana) stably to the international market;
By combining local fruits and existing agricultural specialties of the Mekong Delta to create modern and good products that elevate Vietnamese specialties, bring new experiences to customers, promote Vietnamese cultural values and enrich for family, employees, home town and country.
MILESTONE TO THE GOAL
- The porfolio will have: jams, more snacks from fruits
- 2 sales teles, 1 exporting sales, 1 in-house marketing
- Customers: CoopMart, Aeon, LotteMart, CVSs (GS25, FamilyMart, CircleK), KingFoods, Emart, Nam An Market, An Nam Gourmet, 3 Clean, Sea Wolf…
- Good sales at big-active cities: Nha Trang, Da Nang, Hoi An, Phu Quoc, Ninh Binh, Saigon, Hanoi…
- Full fill all stores in the airport in Vietnam (now > 50%).
- Open a factory to make sticky rice paper and some kinds dried fruit;
- Developing the market for for jam, banana powder for domestic and exporting.
- Top 10 specialty products of Vietnam – top of mind about Vietnamese specialties, top 3 about southern specialties to give as gifts
- Tu Bong has one new product every year, in which the main ingredient is fruit, or an old product is improved to be new to consumers.
- Sales channel: 50% MT channel, 30% gift specialty channel, 20% export channel