However, they can only meet 40-50 percent of demand because of the poor harvests caused by droughts in the north and floods in the central part of the country.
Vietnam’s fruit and vegetables were exported to only 20 markets in the first eight months of this year, 17 markets less than in the same period last year. Among them, China, Russia and Japan are the largest taking 45 percent of the export turnover.
The most popular products processed for export include pureed fruits, sliced pineapples, litchis, and green dragon fruit. After lifting its import ban on Vietnamese green dragon fruit on October 20, 2009, Japan agreed to import 1-2 tonnes of the fruit at US$8-10 per kilo. Japan is now considered Vietnam’s most profitable market.
Representatives of the Vietnamese Plant Protection Department (PPD) recently asked the Republic of Korea (RoK) to license Vietnam’s dragon fruit so it can be exported to the country.
New ways of treating fruit worms have helped to push up exports to highly demanding markets such as Taiwan, the RoK, Australia and New Zealand, said PPD deputy director Dam Quoc Tru.
Vietnam’s fruit and vegetable exports to China are estimated at about US$50 million. Currently, China is Vietnam’s leading importer, followed by the US, Russia, Japan and Taiwan.
Exports to Cambodia have also increased sharply to 200 tonnes per day and businesses in An Giang now export almost 80 tonnes of fruit and vegetable a day, but this is still far from meeting the demand.
Most of the vegetables imported to Singapore are from Malaysia, but as the rainy season came earlier than expected, leading to a fall in production, Singapore now imports more from China and Vietnam.
Vietnam now has about 47 products exported to the US, not yet on par with its potential. Strict requirements on food safety and hygiene remain a formidable barrier to fresh fruit exports.
Another snag is that in the early season there were abundant supplies of fruit and vegetables but at the end of the crop when prices went up, there were not enough to export.
This has been attributed to adverse but experts say it is because Vietnamese businesses don’t have a long-term strategy, especially to build brand names.
In order to improve and stabilise fruit and vegetable exports, domestic businesses need to have long-term planning. They should have strong brand names and a production process to ensure Vietnamese fruit and vegetables are both safe and adequately packed. They should also apply modern technologies in post-harvest processes, preservation and transportation.
It is expected that apart from major export products such as canned fruit, dried fruit, dried sweet potatoes and canned cucumbers, exports of other fruit including dragon fruit, grapefruit, litchis, durian and sapodilla will increase steadily in 2010.