The first batch of Vietnamese star apples has been exported to the US by the Cat Tuong Agricultural Products Producing & Processing Co Ltd from the Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang, announced the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) and provincial authorities yesterday.
With the shipment, Vietnam has become the first and only country licensed to sell fresh star apples to the demanding market, following years of negotiations, according to MARD deputy minister Tran Thanh Nam.
The US is the third largest fruit importer for Vietnam, with its 2016 fruit export revenue reaching US$84.5 million, an increase of 44.2 per cent over the previous year’s figure.
In the first 11 months of this year, the market imported Vietnamese fruits worth $92.6 million, a year-on-year rise of 21.3 per cent.
Therefore, “the US is a big potential market for Vietnamese fruits in general and star apples in particular,” Nam highlighted.
Together with litchi, longan, rambutan and dragon fruit, star apples are the fifth Vietnamese fruit allowed into the American market.
The first shipment of star apples to the US had opened big opportunities for the Vietnamese fruits to penetrate other demanding markets, the deputy minister said.
Nam also expressed his hope that following Cat Tuong, more and more companies would be able to export Vietnamese fruits to foreign markets, especially the US.
Pham Anh Tuan, vice chairman of the provincial People’s Committee, said that this was good news for the country’s agricultural sector as well as local farmers, adding that this was the initial step for international market penetration of Vietnamese star apples in particular and of the province’s specialities.
In the near future, the province would continue taking drastic measures to support the shipment of star apples abroad, including upgrading infrastructure, applying high-tech in intensive farming and building a production value chain, Tuan said.
Dang Hoang Tho, a star apple farmer in Chau Thanh District’s Long Hung Commune, expressed his delight on witnessing the first shipment of star apples to a foreign market.
He said that he had encouraged other farmers to plant star apple trees in accordance with Good Agriculture Practices (GAPs) – the basic environmental and operational conditions necessary for the production of safe, wholesome fruits and vegetables, and collaborate with the Cat Tuong Company to increase income from exporting the fruits.
Doan Van Sang, director of the Cat Tuong Agricultural Products Producing & Processing Co Ltd, said that being chosen to be the first Vietnamese star apple exporters, the company had to invest in packaging and preserving facilities to meet the strict requirements of food safety and quarantine of the demanding importer.
To ensure a stable supply of star apples to the US market, the company signed contracts with farmers to help them maintain growing areas, apply intensive farming techniques and sell the products.
Vietnam has about 5,000 hectares of star apples, mainly in the Mekong Delta provinces of Tien Giang (3,100ha) and Can Tho (1,200ha).
As of December 15, Vietnam’s fruit export turnover was recorded at US$3.35 billion, 45 per cent higher than last year’s corresponding period.