How LQC Raises the Bar
LQC invests in its staff to ensure it has the skilled talent to compete on a global basis.
Some food companies make product quality their only priority, but Luong Quoi Coconut (LQC) Inc. refuses to stop there. The Châu Thành District, Vietnam-based firm instead makes sure the rest of its business lives up to the high standards of its namesake product.
This focus has made LQC the No. 1 exporter of coconuts in Vietnam and allowed it to grow its business by 20% annually for the past six years. “We’re focused on making things work right,” Chief Operating Officer Chad Huemme declares.
LQC started operations more than 30 years ago, when a husband-and-wife team began producing coconut milk and cream. Over time, “They evolved it to where they were cooking up a full line of products,” Huemme says.
Today, LQC’s products include coconut water, coconut milk, coconut cream, snack chips, desiccated flakes, butter, and virgin and refined oil. The company sells in Vietnam under the Vietcoco brand name and in more than 30 countries under the CocoGoods and Coco Planet label.
It sells products in the United States under the CocoGoods brand name to H-E-B and supplies coconut products to the private labels of retailers including Target and Costco. “We really came into the U.S. market in a big way with our private label services,” Huemme says. “We’re continuing to invest capacity and service delivery to try and grow the business.”
Pure and Progressive
LQC focuses on quality, paying close attention to the formulation of its products, Huemme says. This includes its coconut oil, which it keeps pure, clean and uncontaminated.
During the manufacturing process, the company uses state-of-the-art technology to retain the products’ nutrients and extract the oil when the coconuts are at their peak. In addition, the company avoids the use of chemicals, bleach or solvents.
Another major focus for LQC is the investment in qualified staff, which includes skilled food technology technicians and process engineers. This initiative, Huemme notes, comes straight from the company’s owners, who want to ensure that the organization has the skilled talent to compete on a global basis.
“They truly treat their employees as family and support them,” he says, adding that the family-owned company rewards them with benefits such as profit-sharing. This treatment has earned the loyalty of the company’s associates and kept its turnover low.
Today, “We have long-term employees who have been here since day one,” Huemme says, adding that LQC has nurtured diversity in its workforce. Many of its staff members are recent college graduates, but its team also includes many experienced workers.
LQC has shown additional willingness to be progressive by adopting green practices. Recently, the company installed 10,112 solar panels on the roof of its 1.5-million-square-foot plant and warehouse in Vietnam.
This made the company one of the first coconut factories in the world to run completely on solar energy. This year, LQC expects to save money on power costs and avoid more than 25 million pounds in CO2 emissions.
“There’s enough clean energy going in to make the coconut products,” Huemme says, adding that the owners’ son, Duy Cu, suggested the installation of the panels after seeing the technology stateside. “[Keeping] all things green, good for Earth and good for humans is the theme of this company.”
In addition to its impacts on the environment, LQC focuses on how it can better its community. Huemme notes that the company regularly takes part in blood drives, and reinvests its profits into education and the construction of local homes.
LQC does this by giving 2.5% of its profits towards preserving and restoring its community and the natural environment in Vietnam. By doing so, the company helps its local farm communities prosper and be as healthy as its coconut products.
Ready to Grow
Now is a good time for LQC to be in the coconut business as more consumers are eating healthy, Huemme says. In fact, the company itself projects that the coconut sector will experience a compound annual growth rate of 7.9% through 2026, which will allow it to reach a global value of $19.2 billion. This puts LQC in a good position to expand its reach.
To achieve this goal, LQC has plans to continue growing its share of private label work. but with retailers that do not already use its services. “We offer a great deal for the private label manufacturing of coconut products,” Huemme says.
The firm also wants to continue developing its CocoGoods brand of products and its presence in the United States. Although LQC may face challenges gaining traction in the market, the company has already proved that it is adept at adapting to difficulties during the coronavirus pandemic.
The company managed to adjust during this hard time by building back office operations in Norwood, Mass., and improving LQC’s supply chain management operations. “We’ve overcome those challenges,” Huemme asserts. “We’re able to deliver top-tier service levels to grocery stores today.”
He sees a strong future ahead for LQC, which wants to grow its private label business sevenfold in the next five years. “I hope we’re able to knock down client opportunities of significant scale,” he says.
LQC also will stay a purpose-driven brand that invests in its employees, lowers its impacts on the environment and contributes to its local farm communities, making it a company that retailers should be excited to work with. To learn more about LQC and its products, visit www.cocogoodsco.com.