The Vietnamese export of fruit and vegetables has risen considerably in recent years. The increasing demand, both domestically and from abroad, and the economic growth, contribute to the development of this sector. More investments are also made in the processing industry.
Vietnam is a rising market with about 92 million inhabitants. In recent years, the country experienced a significant economic growth, and it’s even one of the fastest growers in Asia. The export of fruit and vegetables has increased significantly in recent years, with an average annual growth of 26.5 per cent, from 439 million dollar in 2009 to 2.2 billion dollar in 2016. Because of that, the fruit and vegetable export surpassed the export of rice for the first time ever. During the first quarter of 2017, the Vietnamese fruit and vegetable export grew by 29.8 per cent to 700.6 million dollar. Because of the strong export and an increasing local demand, even more growth is expected.
Fruit and vegetables from Vietnam can be found in more than 60 countries and regions globally. With a share of almost 75 per cent, China is the largest importer. Other important buyers of Vietnamese fruit and vegetables are the US, Japan, South Korea and Thailand. Europe also imports fruit and vegetables from Vietnam. In 2015, the EU and Vietnam signed a free trade agreement that will come into effect either at the end of the year or the beginning of 2018. Moreover, the Netherlands is the largest investor in Vietnam.
Exotic fruit and vegetables
The Vietnamese climate, divided into three zones (temperate, tropical and subtropical) is very suitable for growing various exotic fruit and vegetables. Popular tropical types of fruit are, for example, longan, mango, passionfruit, lychee and dragon fruit, as well as bananas and citrus. Vegetables grown in Vietnam include typically Asian vegetables such as wild rice stalks, pea shoots, watercress, lotus leaf, bean sprouts, bac ha, and chives. Horticulture is also a promising sector in Vietnam.
Not just the market for fresh Vietnamese fruit and vegetables is growing, but also the processing and frozen industries are in development. Europe imports frozen tropical fruit such as jackfruit, durian, rambutan, dragon fruit, pineapple and lesser well-known products like bitter melon, among other products, from Vietnam. These products find their way to Indonesian shops, Asian supermarkets and the catering industry via wholesalers. Not all Vietnamese food processing producers meet European standards, but more and more companies invest in new machines and methods of storage to increase quality, safety and production.
Dutch processing line for Vietnamese producer
Machine manufacturer Innotec Systems from Werkendam, the Netherlands, has delivered a vegetable processing line to Antesco. This is one of the largest Vietnamese companies active in producing and exporting IQF and tinned fruit and vegetables. “Antesco is a well-known supplier in Europe. As much as 70 per cent of the total production of 10,000 tonnes is shipped this way,” says Patrick Pullens from Innotec Systems. “The new processing line is used for processing baby corn, edamame beans, lemongrass and cauliflower, among other things.” The processing line consists of modules for washing, blanching, cooling and freezing of the products, and has a capacity of 2,500 kilograms per hour. The washer and freezer were supplied by Innotec’s partners. The blanching and cooling machine were developed in-house. “Blanching and cooling occurs by means of a stainless steel band with irrigation bins above it. The advantage of this band is that it ensures an exact control of the time the product remains in the machine,” Patrick explains. Besides irrigation, it’s also possible to blanch the products within this part of the machine by means of steam. “The machine is divided into multiple temperature zones that can be adjusted separately from each other. Because temperatures can be adjusted up to 0.2 degrees Celsius, the blanching process can be well-managed, so that dehydration can be prevented. This also results in a lack of product loss.”
He mentions that the line doesn’t just offer a product-technical advantage to Antesco. It also uses little water because the outgoing water is circulated and reused during processing. “Water is only added to compensate for evaporation and spillage. The temperature differences are so small that heating and cooling the water is energy-efficient. Both the blancher and the cooler have their own water circulation system, guaranteeing food hygiene.” Antesco manager Huyn Quang Dau is pleased with the new processing line, which has enabled the company to catch up with the processing industry. “Not just the results of these machines, but also the after sales services have satisfied us. We hope to continue this good cooperation in future.”