06:00 | 30/07/2020 Trade
(VEN) - Vietnamese lychees have been imported into Singapore for the first time on a large scale and are now available in the NTUC FairPrice supermarket chain. Vietnam Economic News’ Thu Phuong spoke with Vietnamese Commercial Counselor in Singapore, Dr. Tran Thu Quynh, about this breakthrough.
Could you tell us about the trade office’s efforts to introduce Vietnamese lychees in Singapore?
Over the past three years, the office has organized trips to Vietnam for Singaporean fruit importers, including NTUC FairPrice whose representatives examined Vietnamese lychee farms. Since the beginning of this year’s lychee season, it has worked with the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency (VIETRADE) and the Department of Industry and Trade of Bac Giang Province, dubbed the kingdom of lychee in Vietnam, to hold an online workshop promoting the fruit. The trade office has been developing a good relationship with the NTUC FairPrice supermarket chain (accounting for 70 percent of Singapore’s retail market) to introduce and persuade Singaporean importers to purchase Vietnamese new products, which has diversified and increased the presence of Vietnamese products in general and Vietnamese fruits in particular in this supermarket system.
As of mid-June 2020, nearly 50 tonnes of lychees were exported to Singapore via Hai Phong Port and it is expected that by the end of this litchi season, the total export amount would reach 100 tonnes. Labeled “Product of Vietnam”, the lychees are available in more than 200 NTUC FairPrice supermarkets, successfully competing with lychees from Chinese Taipei, China, and Thailand.
Thanks to its good quality and eye-catching appearance, the fruit has quickly won over local consumers, leaving shelves in many supermarkets empty after only two weeks. It was sold at SG$5 (US$3.59) per kilo in the first week under a promotion program, and SG$6 in the next week.
What difficulties do Vietnamese lychees face in competition with products of the same kind from Thailand, Chinese Taipei, and China?
Singaporean consumers love lychees, generating large demand for this kind of fruit and making it easy for Vietnamese lychees to penetrate this market. Vietnamese lychees are of high quality and more competitive than products of the same kind from Thailand, Chinese Taipei, and China in terms of price.
However, lychee exporters could have trouble ensuring sufficient supply for Singapore if Japan’s demand for lychees increases now that Vietnam has begun exporting large quantities to that market, as well. Export lychees are grown in Hai Duong Province and have the OTAS code. As the rate of damaged fruits upon docking in Singapore remains high, lychee packaging and handling needs to be improved. The undamaged fruit have to be packed again, increasing the costs. Without good quarantine, classification and packaging in Vietnam, Vietnamese lychee’s position will not be sustainable.
Singaporean specialists and the Directorate for Standards, Metrology and Quality (STAMEQ) are promoting a pilot project for cold supply of lychees in Bac Giang and Hung Yen provinces to add value to Vietnamese lychees and longan. Hopefully, with support of specialists from Singapore and other countries, Vietnam’s high quality lychee areas will be consistently developed to ensure high product quality, large-scale and long-term supply with competitive prices for Singapore and other foreign markets.
What will the trade office do to ensure Vietnamese lychees’ stable approach to Singapore?
Singapore is still taking measures to control the Covid-19 pandemic so it is impossible to carry out an offline lychee promotion campaign there. In preparing to ensure stable Vietnamese lychee exports to Singapore in the coming years, the trade office and NTUC FairPrice reviewed and summarized deals. Next lychee season, the trade office will work with the Vietnamese Embassy in Singapore, Bac Giang and Hai Duong provinces, the Saigon Coop Group, and NTUC FairPrice to launch a “Vietnam Lychee Day in Singapore.” The trade office is coordinating with Singaporean specialists in designing leaflets in English to introduce and promote Vietnamese lychees in preparation for this event.