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In the context where many export sectors are facing difficulties and experiencing a continuous decline in export turnover in the first six months of the year, the export of fruits and vegetables has still made a remarkable impact with $2.8 billion USD, equivalent to 81.8% of the total for the entire year of 2022. The fruits and vegetables sector has the potential to achieve the target of $4 billion USD for the whole year and even set a new record.
(Frozen durian from Vietnam sold in supermarkets in US)
Durian - The Rising Star
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, in the first six months of 2023, the export turnover of agriculture, forestry, and fisheries reached $24.5 billion USD, a decrease of 11.1% compared to the same period in 2022. Notably, amidst the difficulties faced by the export market, Vietnam still had seven products or product groups with export values exceeding $1 billion USD. Among them, fruit and vegetable exports reached $2.7 billion USD, coffee $2.4 billion USD, rice $2.3 billion USD, cashew nuts $1.6 billion USD, shrimp $1.5 billion USD, rubber $1 billion USD... Remarkably, the fruit and vegetable sector has brought the most surprises, with an export turnover of $2.75 billion USD in the first six months, a significant increase of 64.2% compared to the same period last year. This is also a record-high figure for this sector.
In the first five months of 2023, China ranked first in terms of Vietnam's fruit and vegetable consumption with a market share of 63.5%, reaching a value of $1.29 billion USD, an 80% increase compared to the same period in 2022. This is the highest growth rate among the top 10 largest fruit and vegetable import markets for Vietnam. According to analysis by the Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development (IPSARD), Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, China's import structure for fruits and vegetables primarily focused on the fruit category. Among them, the top five fruits accounted for the highest value (84%): durian (37%), dragon fruit (19%), banana (12%), jackfruit (9%), and mango (7%); the remaining were other fruits such as watermelon, coconut, chili, and cucumber. In May alone, durian exports to China brought in a value of $319.8 million USD, an increase of over 1,082% compared to April and over 57,061% compared to the same period last year (more than 10 times and over 57 times increase, respectively); dragon fruit exports reached $46.5 million USD, an increase of 82.5%. This also demonstrates the seasonal nature of fruits and vegetables, leading to significant fluctuations in export values throughout the months.
Among the top 10 largest fruit and vegetable export markets for Vietnam, China leads with nearly 63.5% market share, a growth of over 12.4% compared to the same period last year (reaching nearly $1.3 billion USD in the first five months). Following China are South Korea, Japan, and the Netherlands, all experiencing good growth, while the United States decreased by 12% compared to the same period.
According to the Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development, as of May 2023, durian has officially surpassed dragon fruit to become the leading fruit in terms of export revenue (across all markets), accounting for 26%, followed by dragon fruit at 15% and banana at 9%.
Assessing the potential of Vietnam's fruit and vegetable industry, the Department of Crop Production (Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development) stated that Vietnam ranks 14th globally in fruit tree production, with a total area of over 1.2 million hectares. The newly cultivated area continues to increase annually, averaging over 62,000 hectares per year in the southern region, focusing on high-value economic crops such as dragon fruit, durian, jackfruit, mango, and pomelo. This positions Vietnam as the 9th largest fruit and vegetable exporter in the world market.
Focusing on deep processing
In an interview with Customs Magazine, Mr. Dang Phuc Nguyen, Secretary-General of the Vietnam Fruit and Vegetable Association, stated that this year is expected to see a significant and potentially record-breaking growth in the export value of agricultural products, particularly durian. If the fruit and vegetable industry maintains its export momentum until the end of the year, the total export value for the year could reach a record-breaking $5 billion USD.
According to assessments by many experts, the high increase in Vietnam's fruit and vegetable exports is due to the Memorandums of Understanding signed with China last year, which facilitated favorable conditions for Vietnam's fruit and vegetable exports. Additionally, China's increased purchase and consecutive approval of planting areas and packaging facilities for durian in Vietnam have contributed to the record-breaking achievements in the fruit and vegetable sector. Currently, Vietnam has obtained official export codes for 293 planting areas and 115 packaging facilities issued by China's General Administration of Customs (GACC). The Plant Protection Department is working with the GACC to coordinate the next online inspection schedule for approximately 400 planting areas and 60 durian packaging facilities.
However, the Secretary-General of the Vietnam Fruit and Vegetable Association also pointed out that, in terms of geographical location, Vietnam has advantages over Thailand or Malaysia in durian exports. For example, it takes Thailand 8-10 days to transport durian to Chinese markets, while Vietnam only takes about 1.5 days. With fewer transportation days, the costs are reduced, leading to more competitive prices in populous markets. However, this advantage is not everything, as Vietnam is currently behind in terms of varieties. The Chinese market is accustomed to consuming Thailand's Monthong durian or Malaysia's Musang King, so even though Vietnamese durian is cheaper, it has lower consumption and prices. We have not truly excelled in variety development, and we lack high-quality fruit tree varieties. This is also the reason why fruits such as mango and longan are weaker against the competition from other exporting countries. Mr. Nguyen believes that exporting fruits and vegetables to China will be more favorable if exporters meet the market's requirements through good agricultural practices (GAP).
Assessing the situation of fruit and vegetable exports in the last six months of the year, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Phung Duc Tien affirmed that if the growth momentum is maintained in the remaining six months of this year, fruit and vegetable exports in 2023 will undoubtedly exceed $5 billion USD. This mainly involves exporting fresh produce, and if there are further investments in deep processing, improved variety development, farming practices, and tapping into the potential market, the $10 billion USD figure for Vietnam's fruit and vegetable exports in the near future is entirely achievable.