VN aims for $10b in fruit and veggie exports

Thursday, Jun 07, 2018 09:47

Nguyen Quoc Toan

After seeing impressive growth in the past three years, Viet Nam’s fruit and vegetable exports are expected to reach US$10 billion by 2020. Nguyen Quoc Toan, acting director of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s agricultural product processing and market development department speaks to the Vietnam News Agency about this issue.

Viet Nam expects to gain US$10 billion in fruit and vegetable exports in 2020. What do you think about the target?


Viet Nam has great potential in the agricultural sector, especially in fruit and vegetable exports. Viet Nam has a distinct regional climate and each region has its own specialties such as dragon fruit, litchi, and tropical fruit and temperate vegetables.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), from 2015 to now, fruit and vegetable exports have achieved impressive growth results. The export value of those products reached $1 billion in 2015, increasing to $2 billion in 2016 and $3.5 billion in 2017.

Following last year’s success in vegetable and fruit exports, MARD has implemented solutions from the beginning of this year to achieve the yearly plan in vegetable and fruit exports.

Viet Nam expects to gain $4 billion from vegetable and fruit exports this year.

In the first five months of this year, the country achieved a year-on-year growth of 16.4 per cent to $1.62 billion. This is a good signal reflecting the strong movement of domestic and world markets.

This also showed the efficiency of Viet Nam’s policies in the development of vegetable and fruit exports over recent years.

Meanwhile, farmers, businesses and localities have determined that vegetable and fruit exports are a strong point of domestic agriculture, so they have put investment in the development of these products in the long term.

In the process of developing vegetable and fruit exports, the role of enterprises is very important in leading the market, thus production of these products according to market demand and supply is essential.

At the same time, State management agencies will negotiate to expand export markets, and create production chains for those products.

Therefore, we can be confident that the total fruit and vegetable export value of Viet Nam will likely reach $10 billion in the next couple of years.

Viet Nam’s fruit and vegetable exports account for only 1 per cent of the global market. What are your thoughts on this figure?

The world vegetable and fruit market has a large demand and Viet Nam still cannot exploit all of its potential. Viet Nam has exported its agricultural products to 170 countries and territories around the world.

The country has also signed 16 bilateral and multilateral trade agreements. International economic integration in the agriculture sector has brought Viet Nam great opportunities in trading vegetables and fruits but also many challenges, especially when Viet Nam’s production capacity is small.

Therefore, if the production is well-organised, market shares of Viet Nam’s fruit and vegetable products on the world market will continue to increase.

Up to 70 per cent of Vietnamese exports have entered China. Meanwhile, exports to other major markets such as South Korea, Japan, the US and the EU have been low due to their failure in meeting requirements on storing and processing. What are the biggest challenges for Viet Nam’s fruit and vegetable exports at present?

The vegetable and fruit production industry has faced three big challenges in exports.

First of all, its production scale is small; there is also little land investment for production and not enough cooperation in production, which ultimately leads to a low yield.

In addition, the processing of vegetables and fruit has been not been efficient. The output of processed vegetables has reached about 16 million tonnes per year, while processed fruit output has stood at about 8.5 million tonnes per year. Viet Nam has 145 vegetable and fruit processing facilities. However, processing is still at the preliminary stage and storage is still low level. This is the second biggest challenge.

The third is the market. There are limitations in logistics infrastructure, consumption, rural trade, border gate economic zones and customs. Those are not developed to meet international expectations.

Therefore, the sector needs cooperation among ministries, localities and enterprises to solve those challenges.

In addition, there is one more challenge in building raw material areas for processing plants. This is a problem for management agencies because if vegetable processing plants are not built at right places, purchasing of raw materials for the plants will be very difficult.

However, some major exporters of vegetables and fruits have solved this problem.

For instance, Doveco has invested in building a large-scale vegetable and fruit processing plant located in the vegetable growing area in Gia Lai Province. Meanwhile, NA Food invested in a similar factory in Long An Province. It is expected that there will be about six to eight fruit and vegetable processing plants in operation this year. Those plants will increase the value of export agricultural products.

What are other barriers for Viet Nam’s fruit and vegetable exports towards the goal of $10 billion by 2020?

To sell vegetables to the market, the first requirement must be quality assurance. The quality requirements of each market are different.

Therefore, the first thing to pay attention to is the quality standards for products of each market.

One more important thing is that the time of harvest and the time that the product enters the supermarkets of foreign countries must be calculated rationally. At present, fresh products now account for a large volume of the fruit and vegetable exports.

Therefore, the vegetable and fruit sector should invest in the preservation of vegetable and fruit products for exporting to distant countries, as now the longest preservation time for local vegetables and fruits abroad is about 30-35 days.

I think businesses should actively put more investment in preservation facilities to be able to export vegetables to further markets.

What are the solutions of the ministry to promote exports of Vietnamese vegetables and fruits in the coming time?

There are many solutions in the coming time; some have already been implemented such as a decree on the promotion of investment in rural agriculture. We will have a decree on organic agriculture in the next couple of months.

The ministry has also proposed solutions on information about market connection. The agricultural product processing and market development department will cooperate monthly with agencies of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to provide information about agricultural products periodically at home and abroad.

We also cooperate with trade offices in foreign countries to provide information as well as update standards on foreign markets for enterprises in Viet Nam.

This is a difficult solution but it must be implemented in order to gradually meet the strict standards of many large markets in the world. With this solution, Vietnamese vegetables and fruits can enter further into the world market. — VNS

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