The fastest and shortest route to the US market was through retail channels, an official said at a seminar on exporting to the US held in HCM City on May 13.

"By doing this, they can get updated market information and keep up with consumer trends and tastes," said Nguyen Hong Duong, Deputy Director of the Ministry of Industry and Trade's American Market Department.

"They will also be able to follow the US's strict regulations on food safety and hygiene, as well as technical and quality standards," he added.

Exporters must improve the quality of their goods and trademarks to increase their competitiveness in the demanding US market, he said.

Duong also pointed out that the Government should develop new policies to help exporters access American retail channels.

Speaking at the conference, Nguyen Thang Vuong, commercial attache at the Embassy of Vietnam's trade office in US, said exporters should identify the US market's demands and requirements, as they could vary substantially from other regions.

Moreover, they should be aware of the US's sophisticated technical trade barriers for a wide range of imported products, he added.

Still, exporters should give priority to choosing proper distribution channels such as retail supermarkets like the Kroger Group, the US 's second-largest retail chain.

Tim Kelbel, vice president of corporate brands and global sourcing at Kroger, said his company was seeking "a wide range of products, especially in sectors that are strong in Vietnam ".

"Our interests are coffee, cashew nuts, fruit, vegetables, seafood, coconut products, spices, rice and wood products," he said.

In recent years, Kroger had imported only 200-300 million USD worth of goods from Vietnam, but the potential for export growth was high, he said.

To increase the export growth, Kelbel urged Vietnamese exporters to meet food safety standards such as Global GAP, Food Safety System Certification 22000, International Featured Standards, HACCP and BRC Global Standards.

Kroger has 786 convenience stores, 2,424 supermarkets and multi-department stores in 31 states in the US.

Bui Thi Thanh An, head of the Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency (Vietrade) in HCM City branch, said exports to the US had reached 20 billion USD last year, an increase of 17 percent compared to 2011.

In the first quarter of this year, export turnover to the US rose by 16.7 percent over the same period of last year.

Vietnam's exports to the US were expected to reach a total of 27 billion USD this year, she said.

The seminar was organised by Vietrade in collaboration with Kroger and the Embassy of Vietnam's trade office in the US.-VNA