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Fruit, vegetable exports enjoy swift recovery after COVID-19 downturn

Vietnam’s fruit and vegetable exports in June recorded robust growth after experiencing a downward for several months as a result of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic, according to data revealed by the Import and Export Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

For the first time Vietnamese lychees have been exported to Japan, a very demanding market in the world.

The figures show that fruit and vegetable exports enjoyed an annual surge of 8.4% in June to US$300 million after enduring a sharp decline in April and May. However, the six-month export figure decreased by 11.4% to US$1.8 billion in comparison with the same period last year.

Most notably, fruit and vegetable exports to the Chinese market saw a sharp fall of 30.3% to US$906.1 million during the opening five months of the year due to the impact of the COVID-19.

Meanwhile, a number of foreign markets saw robust growth throughout the reviewed period, with Thailand experiencing a huge increase of 233.4%, followed by the Republic of Korea (RoK), up 21.9%, the United States, a rise of 6.2%, and Japan, a climb of 15.7%.

Despite the negative growth, the past six months has seen several types of local fruit successfully penetrate some demanding markets. For example, Vietnamese bananas have officially gone on sale in stores part of the Lotte supermarket chain in the RoK, the world’s 12th largest importer of bananas.

At present, the country is sixth among the leading suppliers of bananas to the RoK with a modest export quantity. Indeed, the duration of the five-month period saw the Southeast Asian nation export 2,600 tonnes of bananas with a value of US$1.6 million to the RoK market.

The introduction of Vietnamese banana products to the Lotte Mart supermarket chain has served to present a wealth of opportunities for the country to increase its share in new potential markets.

A prime example of this is Vietnamese lychees which have begun to make inroads into Japan and Singapore.

According to the Vietnamese trade office in Singapore, the initial batch of Vietnamese lychees arrived in Singapore in late May, officially hitting the shelves of the FairPrice supermarket chain in June.

To date, approximately 50 tonnes of local lychees have been exported to Singapore, with the figure expected to rise to 100 tonnes by the end of the year.

There are also bright prospects for fruit and vegetable exports to major markets such as Thailand, the EU, and the Netherlands in the near future.

The Vietnamese Trade Office in Thailand stated that the Thai side has spent more than US$1 billion a year importing fresh fruits, in addition to US$600 million purchasing vegetables. This has seen the country’s fruit and vegetable exports to the Thai market increase by 233.4% during the first half of the year.

With the impending European Union – Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) set to come into force on August 1, the deal is anticipated to create favourable conditions for local businesses to expand into new markets such as the EU, with the trade bloc accounting for 45% of the global trade value of fresh fruit and vegetables.

According to the Vietnamese Trade Office in the Netherlands, the EU’s large-scale market size and seasonal demand has made the bloc an attractive market for fruit suppliers in developing countries, including Vietnam.