Vietnam’s fruit and vegetable exports hit new record

Saturday, 2017-05-20 10:21:59
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A supermarket selling Vietnamese fruit in Japan
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NDO - Fruit and vegetable exports in the first four months of the year surged by 32.6% over the same period last year to US$1 billion, which is considered a new record as the peak time is yet to arrive.

Many markets conquered

By the end of April, China, the US, Japan and the Republic of Korea were the four the largest buyers of Vietnamese fruit and vegetables, accounting for nearly 83% of the total export value. Markets that saw strong growth include Russia, Thailand and Malaysia.

The growth of fruit and vegetable exports is currently the second fastest among farm produce, only after rubber, which grew 66% year on year to US$611 million. In terms of value, fruit and vegetable exports sit in third position, after seafood and coffee.

According to Nguyen Van Ky, General Secretary of the Vietnam Fruit and Vegetable Association, Vietnam’s fruit and vegetables are now available in 50 countries and territories. In addition to established markets, the sector is expanding to more demanding markets such as the US, EU, Japan, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Although Thailand is one of the leading fruit and vegetable exporters in Southeast Asia, the country imported a large amount of fruit and vegetables from Vietnam. Data from the General Department of Customs showed Vietnam’s fruit and vegetable exports to Thailand rose more than 34% in the first three months of 2017.

A piece of good news came in mid-April when Vietnam’s star apple was cleared by the US Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to become the fifth kind of Vietnamese fruit permitted for export to the US, after dragon fruit, rambutan, lychee and longan. The US is also considering Vietnam’s fresh mangoes and will soon announce their decision. The US is a demanding market and although the door has opened, the export volume could only reach several tonnes in the initial stage. Nevertheless, access to this market will create opportunity for Vietnam to diversify its fruit and vegetable markets.

More opportunity for Vietnamese fruit and vegetables

In the months ahead, a range of Vietnamese fruits such as lychee and longan will come into season, promising to help fruit and vegetable exports continue to grow and reach new records.

Furthermore, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will ban importing a number of fruit and vegetables from five Middle Eastern countries in May due to high pesticide residue. This is an opportunity for Vietnamese fruit and vegetables because this ban could push the prices of fruit and vegetables in the UAE higher temporarily due to limited supply during Ramadan which falls in late May. The UAE’s annual fruit and vegetable imports are fairly high, at nearly US$3.2 billion in 2014, US$2.6 billion in 2015 and US$2.5 billion in 2016.

In the meantime, Vietnam’s exports to these markets are still rather small, reaching US$14.2 million in 2014, US$16.2 million in 2015 and US$22.8 million in 2016. Although revenues rise year after year, Vietnam accounts for only an insignificant share of the UAE’s purchases. As Vietnam’s fruit and vegetables are increasingly known and favoured, an increase in exports to the UAE is highly possible.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade forecasts that fruit and vegetable exports could reach US$3 billion in 2017, up 25% from 2016. This target is very likely to be achieved because the sector is enjoying several favourable factors. First, the markets are expanding because Vietnam has signed, implementing or negotiating a total of 16 free trade agreements with more than 50 economies around the world. Second, the prices of agricultural produce are trending upwards because of higher global demand. In addition, the peak of exports will fall from the second quarter to the years-end, so there is still plenty of opportunities for fruit and vegetable export growth.