The national export value of fruit and vegetables rose 33.5 percent year-on-year in the first half of 2013, reaching 492 million USD.

Of this figure, 110 million USD was made in June, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has announced.

China continued to be the largest export market for Vietnamese fruit and vegetables, contributing a total export value of 90 million USD, a surge of 9.3 percent year-on-year.

Meanwhile, the export value of the produce to Japan achieved a big increase of 104 percent, hitting 55 million USD as a rising number of Japanese customers turned to Vietnam for tasty, nutritious and safe fruit and vegetables.

However, the export volume was still smaller than the demand of the Japanese market, the ministry said.

Other markets also saw a sharp increase in export value, including an 84.5 percent rise to 13 million USD in the Republic of Korea and an 85 percent hike to 16 million USD in Thailand .

Nguyen Van Ky, general secretary of the Vietnam Fruit and Vegetables Association (Vinafruit), said dragon fruit is particularly valuable, accounting for 40 percent of the total export value, with the US its biggest outlet.

Since Vietnam was permitted to market this fruit in the country in 2008, the export volume has risen sharply from 100 tonnes to 1,200 tonnes in 2012.

Dragon fruit exports to the US are likely to reach 2,000 tonnes in 2013, as the export volume has doubled in the first half of this year. Other markets like Japan and the RoK also saw a 25 percent surge over the previous year.

Vietnamese rambutan is also favoured in the US , although its price is triple that of those from Mexico (about 15 USD per kilo). In 2012, about 350 tonnes of Vietnamese rambutan were shipped to the US , earning 3 million USD.

Meanwhile, Vietnamese mangos, litchis and longans should be granted licences for export to markets in the US , Japan , Taiwan and the RoK in the time to come.

Despite the positives, the preservation of produce after harvest is the weakest point of local fruit, said Bui Thi Thanh An, deputy head of Trade Promotion Agency. She said better preservation will lead to increased value.-VNA