Vietnamese fruit and vegetable exporters expected to earn US$1.2B this year, compared to US$1.04B in 2013, industry body says

HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam , April 9, 2014 () – Vietnamese fruit and vegetable exporters expected to earn 1.2 billion U.S. dollars this year against 1.04 billion dollars recorded in 2013, according to the Vietnam Fruit and Vegetables Association (Vinafruit).

In the first quarter of this year, the value of Vietnam's fruit and vegetable export reached 215 million dollars, up 32.2 percent year on year.

Key exported products in the reviewed period included dragon fruit, banana, mango, longan, litchi, star apple, rambutan and grapefruit, said the association, adding that orders from traditional markets, such as Russia, Japan, Ukraine and Belarus, have increased dramatically.

The top five importers of Vietnamese fruits and vegetables are China, Japan, the United States, Thailand and Malaysia. China is the largest consumer, accounting for nearly 35 percent of the total value.

In 2013, China purchased Vietnamese fruits and vegetables worth 302 million U.S. dollars, an annual increase of more than 38.7 percent, and market analysts forecast this growing trend will continue in 2014.

According to Vinafruit, dragon fruit exports rose significantly in markets throughout the world in 2013, a trend that is predicted to carry over for 2014.

Vietnam exported 1,300 tons of dragon fruit to the U.S., more than 1,000 tons to Japan, and 300 tons to the Republic of Korea.

Since late March this year, exports of dragon fruit have also been picking up steam in New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, and China's Taiwan markets.

In another market shift, China, Singapore and the Republic of Korea have suddenly increased imports of Vietnamese banana. Currently, China daily purchases around 20-30 tons of banana, while Japan needs between 15 and 20 tons.

Though prices of banana traded at farms have doubled, the products are in short supply.

State-run Radio Voice of Vietnam on Wednesday quoted Le Si Cong, director of Laba Da Lat Company that grows the Laba banana variety in central highlands Lam Dong province, as saying that his company has failed to meet Japan's market demand for 10-20 tons a day since late 2013.

Besides Japan, the United Kingdom, Russia and Ukraine have also expressed a keen interest in Laba banana, said the director.

Vietnam currently produces roughly 1.4 million tons of banana per annum and its cultivation area representing approximately 19 percent of the total acreage devoted to fruit farming, making banana one of the key promising export products.

However, banana farming is spontaneous, and the marketplace is hindered by a lack of coordination in the supply chain and consistency in business transactions with a large number of small growers spreading out over a wide area, pushing purchase and transport costs up, according to Vinafruit.

Vietnam's average fruit and vegetable export earnings have grown more than 30 percent annually over the past four years, from 460 million U.S. dollars in 2010 to 1.04 billion dollars in 2013.

However, competition remains weak and many fruits and specialty exports suffer from quality defects and are returned back due to bacterial infections and other contamination, said the association.

Vietnam's preservation technology has yet to meet international requirements, and only a relatively few Vietnamese products have been licensed to penetrate the high-end markets, including the Japanese market.

Experts said the situation is manageable and can be rectified if the country pays more and proper attention to investment in technology in processing and post-harvest preservation.

In addition, to raise the competitive edge of Vietnamese products, clean production methods, such as VietGAP and GlobalGAP, need to be applied universally in the marketplace by stakeholders in the industry, along with increased coordination of exporting activities.

Nguyen Van Do, director of the Vietnam Academy of Agriculture Sciences, said that Vietnam has great potential for fruit and vegetable exports as its export volume makes up only 10 percent of the total production volume and accounts for only 0.1 percent of total global trade.

(c) 2014 Xinhua News Agency

* All content is copyrighted by Industry Intelligence, or the original respective author or source. You may not recirculate, redistrubte or publish the analysis and presentation included in the service without Industry Intelligence's prior written consent. Please review our terms of use.