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Vietnam’s ‘Coffee King’ Lauds, then Trashes, Starbucks

In a recent interview with Reuters, Dang Le Nguyen Vu of the Vietnamese coffee company Trung Nguyen praised Starbucks for its ability to “implant a story” in consumers’ minds, then he promptly trashed the company for selling “coffee flavored water with sugar in it.”

Here’s more on Starbucks from Vu in the Reuters interview:

“American consumers don’t need another product. They need another story,” he said, adding that his company aimed to improve the lives of people in Vietnam’s coffee-growing highland region, a link he sees lacking in larger rivals.

“They sing great songs about sustainable development but at the end of the day, the return on investment is what they care about. They don’t grow coffee, do they? We do.”

Vietnam is the world’s second largest coffee producing country behind Brazil, with some 90 percent of its coffee being robusta. As primarily an exporter of raw coffee, Vietnam is missing out on much of the profit created in the coffee chain by not roasting and packaging its own brands, Vu says.

Trung Nguyen, Vietnam’s largest coffee processing company with retail locations throughout the country, recently announced plans to invest some $80 million over the next three years to develop more processing facilities, in order to diversify its range of products for international sales, and Vu has spoken publicly to numerous media outlets in recent months about the company’s desire to become a well-known international brand.

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