The EU is a potential market for fresh fruit and vegetables of Vietnam, but the country could face a decline in export revenue and stricter supervision from the EU if it fails to meet food safety requirements.
Le Thanh Hoa, Deputy Director of the Vietnam Sanitary and Phytosanitary Notification Authority and Enquiry Point under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said in 2013, the EU suspended imports of fresh fruit and vegetables from Vietnam after detecting plant quarantine problems.
Although improvements by Vietnamese ministries, sectors and businesses have helped fresh fruit and vegetables be re-exported to the EU, shipments to this market have yet to live up to expectations, he noted.
In the first nine months of 2017, the country recorded more than US$2.6 billion in total exports and US$1.1 billion in imports of fruit and vegetables, respective rises of 44.2% and 78.2% year on year.
Asian markets remained the top destination for the Vietnamese products, followed by the EU, which has imported 680,000 tonnes of vegetables, fruit, flowers and other agricultural products since the beginning of 2017.
Despite good export growth, Vietnamese businesses may face the barriers of safeguard measures, plant protection and quarantine laws, and food safety standards.
Ruggero Malossi, a specialist of the European Trade Policy and Investment Support Project (EU-MUTRAP), said the EU has high requirements for food safety, and that’s why the production of fresh agricultural products must comply with legal regulations.
Among the main requirements, exporters must apply a concrete quality control process during processing and packaging. They must also ensure their products’ traceability.
Vietnam uses the hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) approach to ensure quality and safety in the fishery sector. It should also apply HACCP on the production, harvesting and processing of fresh fruit and vegetables, Malossi said.
Meanwhile, Dam Quoc Tru, a Vietnamese specialist of EU-MUTRAP, asked ministries and sectors to build an appropriate strategy for each market and provide convenient transportation services for Vietnam’s strong products like dragon fruit, longan, rambutan, grapefruit and mango. They should also involve the private sector in inspection and quarantine.
Businesses have to develop concentrated areas for producing key export products, a prerequisite for sustainable agricultural production. It is also necessary for them to stay updated on quarantine, preservation and processing technologies to meet the growing requirements of importers, Tru added.