Vietnam’s fruit export value in 2018 reached nearly US$4 billion, with fruits sent to big markets like the US, Europe and Japan. But since early this year, the domestic agricultural industry has faced many challenges in exporting fruits and vegetables. The nation needs solutions to have high growth in vegetable and fruit exports this year and beyond.
Nguyễn Quốc Toản, director of the Agricultural Products Processing and Development of Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said in an interview: “Along with restructuring the agriculture sector, in the past two years, many industries have been restructured to promote their advantages in production and business, including the fruit and vegetable industry. Vietnam's agricultural products are exported to 185 countries and territories, including many fastidious and niche markets. In 2018, the national export value of fruits and vegetables reached $3.8 billion, which was a great effort.“
“But from the beginning of 2019, exports of farming products as well as tropical fruit products met many difficulties. In the first seven months of this year, export value of fruits and vegetables reached $2.3 billion and from now until the end of the year, we will face a challenging journey as we see a slowdown in the market because we promoted exports to new markets and now we must find ways to maintain high growth of exports to those markets.”
“Besides, there are difficulties in our traditional export markets, especially China, the largest fruit and vegetable export market of Vietnam, accounting for 74 per cent of total fruit and vegetable exports. This market has high demand for quality and wants to sign commercial contracts to import vegetables and fruits from Vietnam instead of importing small quantity via border gates.”
He also spoke of two main problems for Vietnam's fruit exports under commercial contracts; quality control and quarantine. “In quality management, we must focus on traceability. For the Chinese market, we have nine kinds of agricultural products exported to China. This market requires traceability and growing area code for export products. For example, all lychee growing areas in Lục Ngạn District, Bắc Giang Province are granted a code and the Chinese market allows imports of lychees from all these growing areas.”
“At present, 1,200 fruit growing areas nationwide have been granted codes. All Vietnamese agricultural products and fruits in particular must have traceability with QR codes so consumers at home and abroad can know the origin of fruits and the production process.”
“The second is quarantine. Each country has different quarantine standards. So we need many years, even 9-10 years, to unify processes and the criteria of quarantine for local fruit products. Especially, for new generation free trade agreements (FTAs), there are more criteria of quarantine that require the local fruit and vegetable industry to reform.”