Great potential for tropical fruit, vegetable export in Vietnam

Vietnam holds great potential in export of tropical fruits and vegetables, said Huynh Quang Dau, Vice-Chairman of the Vietnam Fruit and Vegetable Association (Vinafruit).

Workers processing rambutan for export at the Tan Binh Food Export Company (Photo: SGGP)

With favorable weather conditions, Vietnam is suitable for growing tropical fruits and vegetables, and has become the fifth largest Asian fruit and vegetable exporter.

This year, fruit export turnover is around US$600 million, an increase of $150 million compared to that in 2010. At present, Vietnamese fruits and vegetables are being exported to 50 countries and territories around the world with core markets being China, Japan, Indonesia, the Netherlands and Russia.

Nevertheless, turnover of fruit exports is far less than other agro-aqua products. For instance, seafood exports reached $6 billion, rice $3.7 billion, wooden furniture $3.5 billion, cashew $2.7 billion.

Economic experts believe Vietnam can earn more dollars from fruit exports as the demand for fruits and vegetables is very buoyant.

Vinafruit pointed out the various shortcomings in fruit exports such as scattered small-scale orchards, shortage of freezers, discoordinated management and poor safety standards.

Matthew Lantz, an expert from USAID STAR plus project, said the US consumes a large quantity of fruits yet it also has to import 50 percent of agriculture produce.  Vietnam has much opportunity to enter the larger markets with its special tropical fruit varieties.

Nguyen Huu Dat, director of Post Entry Quarantine Center No.2 under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that soon after the first shipment of dragon fruit reached the US, Vietnamese longan, lychee and rambutan also entered the US market.

Vietnam cultivates dragon fruit on 1,300 hectares in the central province of Binh Thuan, has 9 packaging plants and two radiation factories. The country has seen an increase of dragon fruit exports to the US from 100 tons in 2009 to 1,300 tons in 2011.

Rambutan export volumes to the US have risen from only 2 containers per week to 20 containers a week, as the unseasonal fruit is not competitive with the Thai and Mexican variety.

Vietnam needs to group small-scale farms into larger ones to meet the demand and easily control the quality of fruits which will help push the sector.

By Cong Phien - Translated by Phuong Uyen

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