Vietnamese fruits have gradually conquered world markets, said Nguyen Xuan Hong, director of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development's (MARD) Plant Protection Department.
Hong noted that Vietnam was a tropical country, especially the southwest region, with orchards all year round, and recently, the United States announced it was importing fresh lychee and longan from Vietnam beginning October 6.
In addition, Vietnamese fruit exporters also plan to sell various fruits such as apples, as well as dragon fruit, rambutan, lychee and mango, to difficult markets such as the US and Japan, as well as Australia, New Zealand, and Taiwan.
"This will be a great opportunity for Vietnamese fruits to start conquering world markets," he remarked.
Hong added that Vietnam had an advantage in exporting fruits since some of them, including dragon fruit and lychee, were delicious and favoured by importers.
He said the US move to import lychee and longan from Vietnam would open more opportunities for Vietnamese fruits to penetrate deeper into the US as well as other demanding markets.
In addition, this move will also create an opportunity for Vietnamese fruit and vegetable exporters to minimise their reliance on the Chinese market and ensure sustainable growth.
Hong also warned that exporting fruits to difficult markets such as the European Union, US and Japan required Vietnamese exporters to meet strict food safety requirements and to subject their products to irradiation treatment to neutralise all plant pests, mostly insects.
Fruit exporters must reorganise their production operations and conduct intensive growing areas and applied bar codes, as well as codes for processing plants.
Nguyen Huu Dat, director of the Centre for Plant Quarantine after Importation, said that since 2008, dragon fruits have begun entering the US, and export volume continued to increase from 100 tonnes in 2008 to 1,000 tonnes in the first six months of this year.
In spite of strong competition from Thailand and Mexico, Vietnamese rambutan exports to the US remain stable as a result of out-of-season cultivation and harvests.
The volume of dragon fruit exports to Japan and the Republic of Korea has reached about 4,900 tonnes. In the first six months of this year, around 1,000 tonnes of dragon fruits were likewise exported.
"Businesses need to make good use of natural products such as coconuts in the US, and increase banana exports to the US and Japan," said Nguyen Huu Dat.
According to Dat, Vietnam has a vast potential to grow and export fresh fruits and thus, needs to initiate the formulation of a production and consumption plan.
He said the plan was needed to make possible the domestic and international promotion of Vietnamese fruits.
According to Nguyen Tri Ngoc, head of the MARD Cultivation Department, small and scattered production scales and limited financial and managerial capacity were the challenges facing Vietnamese fruit exporters.
Post-harvest technology likewise remains a big problem of the commodity production value chain. If there is no standard process for preserving harvested fruits, Vietnamese exporters will find it difficult to penetrate the US market.
According to the MARD, in the first nine months, Vietnamese vegetable exports reached USD 1.1 billion , a 39-percent year-on-year increase, and fruit and vegetable production achieved a USD 708-million trade surplus.
Among Vietnam's 10 major fruit and vegetable importers, China leads with 28.6 percent of market share, followed by Japan with 4.74 percent, the Republic of Korea with 3.76 percent and the US with 3.44 percent.
It is expected that by the end of this year and early next year, Vietnam will continue to export star apple and mango to the US, dragon fruit and mango to Japan, dragon fruit to Taiwan and rambutan to New Zealand.