Enter the dragon fruit: Australia beckons Vietnamese growers

By Nguyen Hoai   September 8, 2016 | 11:39 pm PT
Vietnam's fruit and vegetables exports are becoming a major revenue stream.

Vietnamese dragon fruit growers are looking at ways to break into the Australian market, which has a stable demand and offers higher prices.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on Thursday asked his Australian counterpart to give more market access for fresh dragon fruit from Vietnam.

The two prime ministers met in Vientiane, Laos on the sidelines of the 28th and 29th ASEAN Summits.

In late June, Australia sent a team to the Southeast Asian country to review biosecurity import requirements for fresh dragon fruit, said the Vietnam Trade Office.

Australian agricultural officials are expected to release their final report on the quality of fresh dragon fruit from Vietnam later this year. The results will then be subject to public comment before Australian authorities can officially allow the tropical fruit to enter the country.

Fresh dragon fruit are one of the agricultural products Australia is giving priority to, said the Australian Embassy in Vietnam on April 27 in a press release.

Statistics show Vietnam exported more than 1 million tons of dragon fruit last year. As the fruit can stay fresh for up to 40 days, it is mainly shipped to foreign markets by sea at transport costs ranging from $0.02 to $0.03 per kilogram. Low transport costs make Vietnamese dragon fruit more competitive in Australia.

Consumers in more demanding markets such as the United States, Australia, Canada and Japan have been developing a taste for tropical Vietnamese fruit.

Vietnam has so far this year exported more than 10 tons of lychees to Australia, according to the Vietnam Trade Office under the Vietnamese Embassy in Australia, adding that the customer base for the fruit has quickly expanded across the country.

Vietnam shipped its first consignment of lychees to Australia and the United States in 2015. Even though the volume was small, just 35 tons in total, it was a significant step.

Industry experts said Vietnamese fruit exports are likely to grow if the country can meet the strict standards and quarantine regulations set by these demanding markets.

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