HA NOI — The US market has been importing increasing volumes of Vietnamese fresh fruit and vegetables, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade's Export-Import Department.
|Workers pack dragon fruit for export to the US market. Thirty-six varieties of Vietnamese fruit and vegetables have been exported to the US with a total export turnover US$1.1 million to date this year. —VNA/VNS Photo Quang Nhut
The department reported that US consumers preferred fresh fruit and vegetables to canned goods. Since the start of this year, 36 varieties of fruit and vegetables have been exported to the US from Viet Nam, with a total export turnover US$1.1 million.
According to Vietnamese Minister Counsellor to the US Dao Tran Nhan, US consumers enjoy lychees, mangosteens and dragon fruit.
They even liked sweet potatoes, ginger and garlic, but dragon fruit remained the most popular, Nhan said.
In the first two months of this year, Viet Nam earned $624,000 from dragon fruit, a year-on-year increase of 171 per cent.
Nhan said that this was a good chance for Vietnamese companies, and advised Vietnamese companies to meet the strict US standards on hygiene safety. In addition, managers and producers must have a long-term strategy to support production in order to effectively export fruit and vegetables to the US.
Dragon fruit farmers in Binh Thuan Province are benefiting from a new initiative that makes value added products from dragon fruit that do not meet export criteria.
The Binh Thuan Department of Science and Technology is working with the Rong Xanh Limited Company to make refreshment products like bottled beverages from dragon fruit.
La Mai Han Trang, director of the company, said it produced more than 25,000 refreshment products of various kinds every day, all of which were made with dragon fruit that were of good quality but fell short of specific export standards.
The packaging for these products, including bags and bottles, was imported from South Korea. They could be recycled and were environmentally friendly, Trang said.
"We aim to introduce products to the market for the first time," she said.
Two of these products had been exported to Cambodia and Laos and were also on sale at many supermarkets at home, including Citimart and Satra Sai Gon, she added.
"The company will continue to research and diversify the products made from dragon fruits from Binh Thuan Province, making them more competitive. We are also looking to expand foreign markets for these products," Trang said.
Farmers benefit from the new venture because they are usually forced to sell dragon fruit that do not meet export criteria at lower prices.
Dragon fruit is currently the most prominent product of Binh Thuan Province. The province has a total of nearly 16,500ha under dragon fruit cultivation that yields about 400,000 tonnes of the fruit every year.
However, exports of the fruit via official channels account for just 10-20 per cent of the total output. — VNS