US supermarkets sell fresh lychee from Vietnam for first time

By Vien Thong   June 22, 2023 | 08:02 pm PT
US supermarkets sell fresh lychee from Vietnam for first time
Fresh lychee from Vietnam sold in a supermarket in Texas. Photo courtesy of LNS International Corporation
Fresh lychee from Vietnam has become available for the first time in U.S. supermarkets and costs US$14-15 per pound ($33 per kilogram).

The fruit is being sold at several supermarkets in Houston, Texas, since June 21, with a pack of 11 pounds (or five kilograms) costing $140.

A 1.08-ton consignment of fresh lychee – from the northern province of Bac Giang – had been shipped to the U.S. for the first ever time, according to the Vietnam Trade Office.

Until now Vietnam has only exported frozen lychee to the U.S.

Some exporters tried to ship fresh lychee to the U.S. since 2020 but were unsuccessful since they were unable to meet quality standards.

To succeed finally, Global Food in Luc Ngan, Bac Giang, selected each lychee individually and used irradiation and a technology from Israel to ensure freshness during the shipment, which takes around five days.

The fruit is harvested in Bac Giang and delivered to Ho Chi Minh City by air for irradiation before being shipped by air to the U.S.

Nguyen Thi Kim Huyen, founder and chairwoman of the U.S. importer, LNS International Corporation, said the fruit stays fresh for up to seven days at supermarkets.

Her company has placed an order for another batch of eight tons to sell in Texas, California, Washington, and Oregon states.

"We plan to import another three or four batches of eight to 10 tons each this year."

The U.S. usually imports lychee from Mexico and Australia but also grows it domestically in Hawaii and Florida.

Huyen said the Vietnamese fruit has a distinct fragrance, small seed and reasonable sweetness.

Bac Giang, the biggest lychee growing province in Vietnam, plans to export 96,000 tons of the fruit this year, 15.2% more than last year.

Its main markets are China, the U.S., Australia, and Japan.

There is only one irradiation center in HCMC that is approved by U.S. authorities for imports.

Huyen said this increases costs, revealing that for every dollar she pays to buy the fruit, she has to spend two on logistics.

go to top