Emigrating from “the motherland to the promised land” in 1979, Quoc Lim Lam left Vietnam with a plan to supply Australia with quality Asian food.
Forty years on, the company Mr Lam founded in 1984 has become Australia’s leading supplier of Asian food essentials.
Bearing the same name as his father’s company in Vietnam, Ettason is today an established domestic and international business – importing, exporting, manufacturing and distributing Asian food brands known worldwide in Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong.
With a goal to provide the quality ingredients and products required to make every bite authentic, Ettason has grown to employ more than 240 people, with six branches and three global distribution centres across almost every Australian state.
Mr Lam continues to lead Ettason as Managing Director alongside his dedicated and accomplished family, including Group General Manager Stephanie Lam, Hong Kong General Manager Diana Lam, Head of Marketing Vivian Lam, and Director Lancy Lam.
Their intense focus on “we are what we eat” drives their work to provide top-quality Asian food through a diverse supply chain – from beer and snacks to condiments and noodles – in line with market demands and client expectations.
“Our business is conducted with integrity,” Stephanie Lam told The Cultivator.
“We ensure our vendor partners are advocates for best-practice and achieve relevant industry standards so that we can guarantee consumers the best quality products – and we only partner with suppliers and manufacturers who are category and market leaders in their country of origin.
“It is very important Ettason supports local farmers and Australian-made – about 40 per cent of our products are sourced from local Australian manufacturers.”
This includes Manildra Group’s 100 per cent Australian flour and oils, which go into making Ettason top-sellers such as Amoy sauces, Imei Foods and Non Shim Noodles.
Ms Lam said that Manildra Group had been an important strategic supplier to Ettason for more than two decades, as well as a key business partner for brand and product development – working closely with clients to bring to life new premium products.
“It is very important Ettason supports local farmers and Australian-made – about 40 per cent of our products are sourced from local Australian manufacturers” – Stephanie Lam, Ettason Group General Manager
“Our wide expertise across Asian food markets allows us to understand and pre-empt consumer demand, ensuring we are a one-stop-shop for all Asian grocery products,” she said.
As one of few importers of Asian foods with a national footprint, Ettason’s market-leading distribution capacity and expertise have been key to success.
“Our distribution centres and sales force in most Australian states is attractive to major brands and partners,” said Ms Lam.
“The scale we have been able to achieve sets us apart from our competitors.”
“Our team can achieve 24 to 48-hour delivery turnaround, catering to all customer requirements.”
Ms Lam said Australia’s increasingly multicultural demographic in the past 30 years had put it on the world map as a destination for culinary delights.
“Australians love to travel and explore different cuisines,” she said.
“As a result, we have been quick at Ettason to adopt various flavour profiles, and developed a palate to try new foods.”
“We work on adding to our consumers’ life with flavour and spice, ensuring cultural and authentic culinary experiences in the comfort of every kitchen and household.”
“We also recognise that even in Asian goods, certain dietary trends have become increasingly prevalent – such as vegetarian, gluten-free and vegan options.”
Ms Lam said consumer preference in the Asian market was further diversifying Ettason’s cuisine offering.
“The population in Asian countries has grown increasingly mobile, notably from countries such as China, Korea, India and Indonesia,” she said.
“These tastes, preferences and flavour profiles are expanding, so we now include a wide variety of cuisines in our range, rather than moving from one preference to another. And we are placed to support this.”
Ettason’s catalogue – carrying more than 3000 stock units from more than 45 reputable brands – is growing in line with these developing trends, to service clients of every size, from wholesalers to Asian supermarkets.
Ms Lam said brand development in Asia and beyond had placed Ettason as distributor of choice for popular and up-and-coming Asian food brands.
With an eye to expanding Ettason’s presence in China through Hong Kong, as well as Europe, she said there was still “a lot of ground in Australian supermarkets we have yet to exhaust”.
“For a long time, it was challenging trying to open doors for Asian foods within the Australian duopoly landscape.”
“The introduction of international discount retailers here has opened Australia up to expanding their international foods.”
“We will be focused on further developing the Asian foods category with retailers including online E-commerce retailers.”