Vietnam fruits welcomed overseas, less favored in home market
VietNamNet Bridge - While Vietnam’s fruits are popular among choosy consumers in the US, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand, the products have to struggle to cement their positions in the domestic market.

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In January 2017, Vietnam imported $110 million worth of fruit, a sharp increase of 55 percent over the last year’s same period. 

In 2016, Vietnamese spent $700 million on imported fruits which came mostly from Chile, New Zealand and Australia.

Vietnam also imported fruit from neighboring countries. Thailand has surpassed China to become the biggest fruit supplier. It exported $218.8 million worth of fruit to Vietnam in the first eight months of the year, while China exported $125.2 million.

Imported fruits, mostly grapes, oranges and apples, flood traditional markets and dominate the shelves at supermarkets, though they are nearly VND100,000 per kilo more expensive than domestically grown products.

Thu Duc, a large wholesale farm produce traditional market in HCMC, is one of the biggest distribution centers of foreign fruits. About 10 types of fruits there are carried to retail markets.

South Korean Fuji apple priced at VND133,000 per kilo, French kiwi VNDVND75,000, and South African grapes VND165,000 per kilo sell very well despite high prices.

While Vietnam’s fruits are popular among choosy consumers in the US, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand, the products have to struggle to cement their positions in the domestic market.
When asked why they accept to pay for imports, Ngoc Thu, a housewife in Tan Phu district in HCMC, said foreign products have longer shelf life, and there is no need to worry about unsafe plant protection chemicals, because foreign farmers have to follow strict regulations during farming and preservation.

Hoa, an office worker in Go Vap district, said she understands that Vietnam’s fruits are always fresher than imports because they are brought directly from orchids and fields to markets, while it takes months to ship fruits from other countries to Vietnam. 

However, she still chooses imported fruits because she believes the fruits are safer.

“Imported fruits have to undergo strict examination by the state management agencies in their countries. Meanwhile, the quality of Vietnam’s products cannot be controlled,” she said, adding that imports are 20-60 percent more expensive than domestic products.

Vietnam still imports fruits from China in large quantities. However, in Vietnam, they are introduced as Vietnam’s fruits because Vietnamese consumers boycott Chinese fruits.

A GDC report showed Vietnam exported $2.4 billion worth of fruits and vegetables in 2016, an increase of 30 percent over 2015, while the figure is expected to rise to $3 billion this year.

According to the Vietnam Fruits & Vegetables Association, Vietnam’s products can enter 60 markets, but they still find it difficult to penetrate distribution networks in these countries.

Nguyen Dinh Tung, general director of Vina T&T, said Vietnam needs VND500 billion for projects on developing the technologies for fruit preservation.


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