|An employee at Tien Giang Fruit and Vegetables Company loads pineapples for processing. Fruit and vegetable exports are likely to fetch $2 billion this year. — VNA/VNS Photo Dinh Hue
HCM CITY (VNS) — Fruit and vegetable exports are expected to reach US$2 billion this year as more and more countries have opened their door to Vietnamese fruits and vegetables.
Earnings from fruit and vegetable exports have increased strongly in recent years, from $460 million in 2010 to $1.47 billion last year, according to the Viet Nam Fruit and Vegetable Association.
The figure topped nearly $1.3 billion in the first nine months of the year.
Viet Nam exports 40 kinds of fruits and vegetables to 40 countries and territories, according to Dr Nguyen Huu Dat, director of the Post-Import Plant Quarantine Centre II under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Last year, more than 1.6 million tonnes of fruits and vegetables were exported, of which dragon fruit accounted for more than 997,000 tonnes, watermelon nearly 300,000 tonnes, longan more than 100,000 tonnes, litchi over 70,000 tonnes and rambutan 600 tonnes.
Dat said export of fresh fruit to choosy markets last year went up by 1.5 times over 2013, with more than 3,000 tonnes of fresh fruits exported.
In the first seven months of this year, a similar amount was exported to the US, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia and Chile, he said at a seminar held in HCM City last week.
Viet Nam started to export dragon fruit to the US market in 2008, with only 100 tonnes in that year.
The export volume has steadily increased, reaching 1,500 tonnes last year and 1,152 tonnes in the first seven months of this year.
Rambutan exports to the market have also increased strongly since late 2011, he said.
Last year, the US market began to accept Vietnamese longan and litchi, he said, adding that starfruit and mango are both expected to be shipped to the US by the end of this year.
New Zealand and Australia this year also allowed the import of Vietnamese rambutan and litchi, respectively, and Japan has just opened its market for Vietnamese fresh mango.
Huynh Quang Dau, general director of An Giang Fruit-Vegetables and Foodstuff Joint Stock Company, said its fruit and vegetable exports had enjoyed a growth rate of 15-20 per cent this year compared to the same period last year, with exports to Japan, South Korea and the EU increasing significantly.
Dat said the country's fresh fruit exports still had more room to grow.
However, to develop a sustainable export market, the Government should develop a new export managerial strategy and support farmers and enterprises with post-harvest preservation technology, he said.
Local firms would need to be more active in seeking new long-term export contracts, he added.
Professor Nguyen Quoc Vong of Australia's RMIT University said the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community by the end of this year as well as existing and future Free Trade Agreements, including the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), would open opportunities to boost exports of Vietnamese farm produce.
But to capitalise on these opportunities, the products must meet safety and quality standards and have reasonable prices, he said. — VNS