Processed vegetable, fruit exports boom as China, South Korea, US step up imports

By Thi Ha   March 9, 2024 | 05:00 pm PT
Exports of processed vegetables and fruits have risen sharply this year with China, South Korea and the U.S. importing more of them than in the same period last year.

The global demand for Vietnamese processed fruits and vegetables has increased since the beginning of this year, according to Nguyen Van Thu, chairman of food producer GC Food.

"My company's export revenues have increased by 10% year-on-year and we have received a number of large orders."

Nguyen Thi Thanh Ha, CEO of food manufacturer Westfood, which operates mainly in the Mekong Delta, said her firm’s exports have been up nearly 50% year-on-year in the first two months.

Exports to Europe, America, Australia, and New Zealand have all grown strongly, she said.

Canned products exports to the U.S. increased sevenfold, she said.

Even exports to Europe, which has a slew of technical barriers, grew by 30%.

Vinamit, a company specializing in exports of dried fruits to China, has seen a steady flow of orders, according to its CEO Nguyen Lam Vien.

Exports of processed fruits and vegetables have topped US$1 billion for the last two years, according to the Vietnam Fruits and Vegetable Association (Vinafruit).

Last year they were worth nearly US$1.3 billion after rising by 20% from 2022.

Businesses in the sector said the figure could further rise this year as many rivals such as Thailand, Peru and Ecuador have recently seen vegetable and fruit production hit by the El Nino phenomenon.

Dang Phuc Nguyen, Vinafruit’s general secretary, expected exports to soar to $2 billion this year since Vietnamese frozen durian has been approved for official imports by China.

Concurring, Vien expected exports of frozen banana, jackfruit and durian to boom.

The Middle East, Eastern Europe and India are some other promising markets that have a fondness for Vietnamese fruit and vegetable products, he added.

To ensure they have adequate supply for exports, processing businesses have been working with farmers to secure adequate supply and expanding production.

GC Food has, for instance, expanded its production capacity to 25,000 tons of aloe vera and 20,000 tons of coconut jelly.

Vinamit is planning to acquire a 1,000-hectare farm in the Mekong Delta to grow MD2 pineapple, mango and papaya.

But experts warned that Vietnam’s exports could face some challenges this year, most notably the rising shipping costs resulting from the ongoing Red Sea tensions.

Shipping costs from Vietnam to Europe have risen by three to five times from a year ago.

Processed fruits and vegetables account for 24% of Vietnam’s total exports, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The global market for the products is growing and expected to reach $392 billion by 2025.

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