Imports thrive as locally grown fruits, vegetables languish

By Thi Ha   May 15, 2022 | 02:28 am PT
Imports thrive as locally grown fruits, vegetables languish
Imported fruits on display at a supermarket in Da Nang. Photo by VnExpress/Nguyen Dong
Vietnam imported US$562.1 million of vegetables and fruits in the first four months, up 23.1 percent, while many domestic produce are being sold off with no buyers.

China remained Vietnam’s largest source, accounting for 34.9 percent of the total imports, followed by the U.S. (19.1 percent) and Australia (9.3 percent), according to a report by Agrotrade Vietnam.

The prices of imports are usually higher than local produce, sometimes costing even twice as much.

While mango from the Mekong Delta is sold for VND20,000 (90 US cent) a kilogram, Thai imports cost VND30,000.

Thai mangosteen is sold at VND200,000 compared to VND85,000 for local varieties.

Chinese fruits are increasingly popular in the low-end segment due to their competitive pricing and greater uniformity than local produce.

Chinese seedless "candy" grapes, for instance, come in beautiful-looking bunches and cost VND70,000-80,000 a kilogram, or cheaper than Vietnamese first grade grapes.

Prices of imports from the U.S., New Zealand and South Korea have fallen by 10-30 percent from last year. Considered high-end, they are even more in demand with the price drop.

Meanwhile, farmers in the Mekong Delta are offering their fruits at a few thousand dong a kilogram but are unable to sell them as China’s zero-Covid policy makes it hard to export.

A Vietnamese mango (left) and a Thai imported one. Photo by VnExpress/Thi Ha

A Vietnamese mango (left) with one imported from Thailand. Photo by VnExpress/Thi Ha

At orchards in the southern An Giang Province, mangoes fetch VND2,000-3,000 a kilogram while jackfruit and banana go for VND7,000-8,000.

Vietnam’s fruit and vegetable exports were worth $1.17 billion in the first four months of 2022, down 14.6 percent year-on-year.

Exports to China, the largest market, slumped by 25-30 percent.

Hoa, a fruit importer, said it is easier for Thailand and China to export to Vietnam due to its relaxed Covid policies. Her company's imports rose by 20 percent this year, she said.

Dang Phuc Nguyen, head of Vinafruit, said the difficulties faced by Vietnamese exporters would continue if China prolongs its policy.

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