HO CHI MINH CITY, VIETNAM — IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, will host its seventh international food safety forum — Better Food Safety, Better Business — in Ho Chi Minh City. The two-day forum will highlight how investments in food safety and fostering a food safety culture can help companies unlock business opportunities, create jobs, and contribute to economic growth.

This is the first time the forum will be held in Vietnam, where the average annual food sector growth rate is 15%, which ranks it among the top-growing markets in Asia, according to the IFC. But, inadequate safety standards could hinder the sector’s sustainable growth, reducing market opportunities for local food producers and significantly affecting consumers’ health.

The forum brings together key players from the global food industry to discuss the business case for companies to adopt food safety standards and practices. Investment in food safety helps enterprises improve efficiency and achieve operating cost savings, contributing to stronger brand value. Furthermore, the increased sales, diverse market opportunities and substantial returns on investment over the long-term offset the costs involved.

The forum is held in partnership with New Zealand.

“Agribusiness and food security are part of our development priorities because they contribute to improving health, poverty reduction and creating jobs,” said H.E Wendy Matthews, New Zealand’s ambassador to Vietnam. “Through IFC, we support Vietnamese companies to build capability and put in place practical and efficient systems to produce safe food that meets the expectations of consumers. This will help open up new market opportunities and expand business.”

International experts and practitioners will share valuable experiences from instilling a food safety culture and promoting stronger standards across food supply chains.

“Investment in food safety management systems is a prerequisite for growth of a country’s agribusiness sector,” said Rana Karadsheh, IFC Asia director for Manufacturing, Agribusiness and Services. “Internationally-recognized standards have a proven track record of delivering results that include better risk management and better access to markets. In addition, for investors a strong, effective food safety management system is a sign of a sustainable business.”

The IFC has more than 15 years’ experience providing food safety advisory services to agribusiness and retail clients globally. The IFC noted the work has helped 150 of its clients from 30 countries attract $290 million in investments and generate more than $230 million in new sales. In Vietnam, in partnership with New Zealand and the Slovak Republic, the IFC is working to build awareness for increased food safety standards and training smallholder farmers to achieve international certification, subsequently increasing income and contributing to food security.