A pre-processing factory in Hai Duong province (Photo: VNA)

HCM City (VNA) – More Vietnamese businesses should be shifting to processing and exporting vegetables and fruits, which has high demand worldwide, Vo Mai, Vice Chairwoman of the Vietnam Gardening Association, has said.

Traditional crops such as rice, pepper, cashew, rubber and coffee in Vietnam have reached their limits in terms of farming area, productivity and market growth potential, while the global demand for fresh and frozen vegetables is on the rise.

Many Vietnamese companies are now investing in vegetable and fruit processing to take advantage of the rising market.

Lavifood Joint Stock Company, for example, has opened a 1.8 trillion VND (77.5 million USD) processing factory for vegetables and fruit in Tay Ninh province, with the ability to buy lower-grade fruits to make juice and dried fruit, boosting farmers’ sales and reducing waste, according to its Deputy Director Dinh Hung Dung.

Late last year, Vina T&T Import – Export Service Co. Ltd also began construction of a coconut factory in Ben Tre province. Its Director Nguyen Dinh Tung told Tuoi Tre Newspaper that Ben Tre coconuts are highly competitive and regarded, and the factory will help boost the revenue of farmers and reduce waste.

Nguyen Xuan Cuong, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that such products bring high economic value, but there are only 156 vegetable and fruit processing factories in Vietnam.

Only 1 million tonnes, out of of 27 million tonnes produced every year, are processed in factories, so there are many opportunities to invest in processing factories for these products.

Vo Mai said that Vietnam became one of the world’s leading processors of cashew, pepper and coffee, and that it could also reach the same achievements in processing vegetables and fruits for the global market.

Phung Van Hien, Director of the Global Fresh Fruits Company in Ben Tre, noted that global demand for vegetables and fruits was high, so the important factor would be to ensure quality for exports.

Meanwhile, Vietnamese mangoes have recently entered the US, a market that demands strict specifications. The upcoming direct flights from Vietnam to the US mean that the competitiveness of Vietnamese produce can expect to rise in the future, according to Hien.

In 2018, the exports of vegetables and fruits reached over 3.8 billion USD, with an average growth rate of 15 percent annually in the last five years.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, in 2018, 105,000 hectares of farmland that cultivated inefficient rice species have been converted to fruit and vegetable growing areas.

Rice output still grew by 1.24 million tonnes last year despite a decline in farming area, but the quantity and quality of fruits and vegetables rose.-VNA