As a direct result, the value of their fresh produce sales for 2015 exploded by 47% compared to the prior year, climbing to a record high of US$2.2 billion, MARD said in a preliminary report assessing the industry’s performance.
For 2015, the industry shipped more than 1.6 million metric tons (MT) of fruits and vegetables to overseas markets consisting primarily of dragon fruit (997,000MT), watermelon (300,000MT) and longans (100,000MT).
China- the largest export market
China remained the largest export market, accounting for roughly two-thirds of market share, with exports primarily consisting of mangoes, bananas, dragon fruit, and rambutans transported via Chinese border crossings.
Japan and the Republic of Korea followed as the second and third largest consumer markets at US$49.8 million and US$47.59 million in sales respectively.
Notably, MARD pointed out, longans, litchis, and mangos were shipped for the first time ever to the US, Australia, EU, and Japanese markets – which holds some promise for boosting future export growth.
Additionally, Japan began accepting its first shipments of dragon fruit.
Australia, New Zealand, India, and Chile also opened their doors to Vietnamese produce.
Prospects for fruit and vegetables?
According to MARD, Vietnam will cultivate roughly 845,000 hectares of produce in 2016, with an estimated annual output of 14.5 million MT with a separate 700,000 hectares set aside for fruit trees capable of producing an output of 7 million MT.
To develop sustainably, companies in the industry should focus on ensuring their products comply with the highest of food safety and quality standards along with food labelling requirements.
In addition, the government is working on measures to help the industry better preserve their produce and develop a new export strategy on reducing post-harvest losses, MARD said.
Currently MARD estimates there are over 100 fruit and vegetable processing companies operating on an industrial scale nationwide. However, only a small fraction of them have licenses to export to foreign countries.
Most of these companies mainly act as intermediaries buying fruit from farmers and selling to foreign dealers, and lack any strategy to access foreign markets.