Vietnamese lychees win the heart of Australian consumers

By    July 7, 2016 | 12:07 am PT
Vietnamese lychee farmers and traders have turned to new export markets to find higher prices and more stable demand.

Vietnam has exported over 10 tons of lychees to Australia, the government's online news portal cited Vietnam Trade Office in Australia as saying.

Last year, Vietnam exported its very first consignment of lychees to Australia and the U.S.. Even though the volume was small, just 35 tons combined, it was a significant step.

Industry experts expect more exports of the fruit in the years to come if the country can meet stricter U.S. and Australian standards and quarantine regulations.

Australian consumers’ interest in Vietnamese tropical fruit has grown well, reaching a larger customer base, from the east coastal cities of Sydney and Melbourne last year to the west coastal Perth this year.

As Australia’s Department of Agriculture has approved imports of lychees that are treated at a new food irradiation facility in Hanoi, Vietnamese farmers now no longer have to travel nearly 2,000 kilometers from the north to the south for fruit irradiation treatment.

The Hanoi Irradiation Center, where fruit is treated with high-energy ionizing radiation to eliminate bacteria, extend shelf life and kill invasive pests, is expected to boost the country’s fruit exports this year, according to agriculture officials.

Vietnamese lychees have become more price competitive as the new irradiation center has helped farmers cut costs.

However, the fruit, mainly shipped by air to Australia, is still not as cheap as Chinese lychees which are all shipped by sea, said Vietnam Trade Office under Vietnamese Embassy.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade forecast that the lychee supply for the domestic market this year will record at 78,000 tons while 52,000 tons will be exported to foreign markets.

The northern province of Bac Giang, one of the largest lychee-growing areas in Vietnam, has already harvested nearly 80,000 tons of lychees, and that figure is set to rise to around 130,000.

Although Vietnam has opened up new export markets for its lychees to reduce its reliance on China, growers are still saving the pick of the bunch for traders from the northern neighbor.

China is Vietnam's biggest lychee export market, buying on average some of 60 percent of the annual crop, according to official statistics.

Statistics released by Bac Giang's Department of Trade and Industry showed that as of the end of June, Vietnam has exported over 62,863 tons of lychees to neighboring China via border gates in Lang Son, Lao Cai and Ha Giang.

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