09:27 | 02/09/2016 Trade
(VEN) - Several years ago, while fruit and vegetable accounted for just a modest percentage of the export structure, rice, coffee, and pepper were key Vietnamese agricultural exports. In the last several years, however, while the export of those key products was faced by numerous difficulties, fruit and vegetables have joined the list of products with annual export value exceeding US$1 billion and growing strongly.
Access to many markets
In Mid July, Vietnam received a license to export star apples to the US, which would take effect in the fourth quarter of this year. Prior to that, US businesses have been allowed to import Vietnamese dragon fruit, rambutan, litchis, and longans. Vietnam expects to receive a license to export mangos to this market in the near future.
In the first five months of this year, Vietnam exported to the US about 2,000 tonnes of dragon fruit, rambutan, litchis, and longans, an increase of almost 200 percent compared with the same period last year. Vietnamese litchis have penetrated the Australian market and it is expected that necessary procedures allowing Vietnam to export dragon fruit to this market will be completed later this year. Many other kinds of Vietnamese fruit have been exported to Chinese Taipei, the Republic of Korea, and New Zealand.
In the past few years, fruit and vegetables have become key Vietnamese agricultural exports with continuously growing annual export value. Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Le Quoc Doanh said the fruit and vegetable sector had achieved impressive export results despite modest investment. The export value of this sector rose from US$900 million in 2013 to US$1.47 billion in 2014, US$1.85 billion in 2015, US$1.37 billion in the first seven months of 2016, and is expected to reach US$2.5 billion by the end of this year, up about US$650 million compared with 2015. If this expectation comes true, fruit and vegetables will for the first time move ahead of rice in terms of export value.
Phan Thi Dieu Ha, Deputy Director of the Agency of Foreign Trade under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, said fruit and vegetables topped the list of agricultural products in terms of export growth. Notably, while the export value of most other kinds of agricultural products decreased, fruit and vegetable exports have grown continuously.
Great attention to quality
Vietnamese Commercial Counselor in the US Dao Tran Nhan said to enter difficult-to-please markets like the US, fruit had to meet strict requirements including regulations on gardening, irradiation, and examinations by customs officials at ports.
Vietnam currently has irradiation facilities in both the north and the south, and five high-capacity hot steam treatment facilities in the central region and Ho Chi Minh City. The Plant Protection Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Department is tightly supervising fruit production through the granting of codes for fruit growing areas meeting safety standards.
To promote fruit exports, in the opinion of experts, apart from efforts to overcome technical barriers, it is necessary to attract business participation in production and export activities. The number of fresh fruit exporting businesses is still modest. Risks and high costs are among major reasons for business unwillingness to invest in this field.