Vietnam reaps new fruit export benefits

Several Vietnamese fruits have found their way to major markets in China and the U.S. in 2022, opening up the door for Vietnam to send more high-quality produce overseas.

After four years of negotiation, Vietnam finally exported its first batch of fresh durian to China for the first time in September The fruit came from the central highlands province of Dak Lak.

In October alone, durian exports to China surged 4,000% year-on-year to $50 million, according to Vietnam Customs. It exceeded dragon fruit as the top fruit exported to China.

China has so far approved 113 codes for durian farming and packaging areas in Vietnam, up from 76 in September. The figure is set to increase as there are still 300 codes awaiting approval.

“If China approves all of these codes, Vietnam will have an abundant durian supply to China,” said statement by the Plant Protection Department at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Prices of durian in Vietnam have nearly doubled year-on-year to VND70,000-90,000 per pound in southern provinces.

“Durian has become a new rising star replacing dragon fruit exports to China,” said Dang Phuc Nguyen, General Secretary of the Vietnam Fruit & Vegetables Association (VinaFruit).

Thanks to Vietnamese trade agreements and protocols with China, and the latter’s relaxing of Covid-19 policies, durian and other Vietnamese fruits are being exported to China with ease, he added.

This all stands in stark contrast to last year when hundreds of fruit containers were stuck at Vietnam’s northern border gates due to Covid-19.

Agriculture, forestry and seafood exports surged 11.8% year-on-year to $49.04 billion in the first 11 months. Agriculture alone accounts for more than 42% of that figure, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Vegetables and fruits are among Vietnam’s top eight biggest agriculture export items, along with coffee, rubber and rice.

Grapefruit in November became the seventh fruit officially exported by Vietnam to the U.S., one of the most difficult markets globally.

Industry insiders say that Americans consume about 12 million tons of fruit a year, but domestic supply accounts for only 70% of demand.

Vietnamese exporters have been trying to take advantage of this opportunity. Exports to the U.S. surged 18% year-on-year in the to $240 million in the first 11 months. This is a quadruple from the total figure of $59 million in 2015.

Other fruits that have also found the way to the global market include lime and pomelo shipments to New Zealand starting from November 15, 2022. This country has already been buying mango, dragon fruit and rambutan from Vietnam.

Nguyen told Thanh Nien newspaper that now that more Vietnamese fruits have found their way to overseas, it is even more important that buyers’ demands are met in terms of farming and delivery.

“Whether these markets and opportunities last is up to the farmers and the exporters.”

Ngo Tuong Vy, CEO of exporter Chanh Thu, warned that China is not yet a sustainable market for Vietnam as some regions are still struggling with Covid-19 and their safety measure policies are unpredictable.

The agriculture ministry has set a surging $5 billion target for fruit exports by 2025, up from last year’s $3.1 billion forecast.

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