Fruit prices soar in Vietnam as China's reopening boosts exports

By Thi Ha   February 12, 2023 | 03:25 pm PT
Fruit prices soar in Vietnam as China's reopening boosts exports
At a warehouse in the southern province of Tien Giang is full of durian waiting to be packaged for export to China. Photo by Linh Dan
The price of durian jumped to a record high last month, while those of other fruits tripled their values from a year earlier as China's reopening caused their exports to surge.

China's economy started to reopen on January 8 after 3 years of Covid isolation. Since then, the wholesale price of durian surged to VND190,000 (US$8) per kilogram, the highest cost ever recorded.

The price of white dragon fruit rose to VND18,000-25,000, red dragon fruit jumped to VND35,000-38,000, custard apple hiked to VND50,000-60,000, and jackfruit rose to VND18,000-25,000.

Experts say that the reopening of the major Chinese export market has created a surge in demand for fruits that are currently out of season, thus low supply has spiked prices.

Linh, a veteran trader in the southern province of Tien Giang, said this is the first year she has had to pay a commission of VND1,000 per kilogram of durian to anyone who introduces her to an orchard.

"At one orchard, I spent dozens of millions of dong on commissions. However, overall supply is still limited because durian is not in full season now. The output is not enough to supply my partners," she said.

Prices of other agricultural products such as sweet potato, taro, and watermelon also increased sharply in January. Sweet potatoes were sold for VND14,000 per kilogram, up 50% against January 2021.

The sweet potato price was the highest in the last four years, said Thanh Mai, an agricultural product trader in the Central Highlands region.

Since China reopened its doors, the export volume of Vietnamese potatoes has increased. Currently, sweet potatoes in the Central Highlands region are off-season, so output is low. Therefore, their prices will continue to surge in the next 1-2 months, said Mai.

Trade boom

Reports from the departments of agriculture and rural development in the provinces of Gia Lai, Long An, An Giang and Tien Giang all showed that prices of most agricultural products had surged to their highest levels since the onset of Covid.

More goods being exported to China means more local trade and more local processing, which means higher prices as demand outweighs supply.

The volumes of agricultural products purchased in Vietnam and exported to foreign countries, including China, has increased by 20-50% over the last 12 months, according to official statistics.

Last month, Hoa Cuong Fruit Import-Export Company bought 300-500 tons of dragon fruit from traders and growers each day.

Ngo Tuong Vy, CEO of Chanh Thu Fruit Import-Export Company, said her company’s agricultural product exports to China last year were up 60% against 2021. The figure this year will surpass last year, she predicted.

Traders buy sweet potatoes in the Central Highlands region. Photo by Linh Dan

Traders buy sweet potatoes in the Central Highlands region. Photo by Linh Dan

Dang Phuc Nguyen, general secretary of the Vietnam Fruit Association, said 19.2% of Vietnam’s agricultural, forestry and fishery products are exported to China. He called the Chinese market the most highly potential export market for Vietnam this year after the northern neighbor abandoned its "zero Covid" policy.

According to the Lang Son Province Customs Department, exports to China through border gates in the northern province are flowing smoothly.

The department reported that over 700 trucks carrying Vietnamese products, mainly fruit, complete customs clearance procedures each day.

According to a report by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, China imports nearly $10 billion worth of agricultural products from Vietnam each year. Exports to China usually account for more than half of Vietnam’s total fruit and vegetable exports.

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