Vietnamese officials have announced the suspension of the country’s dragon fruit exports to the US due to high costs and technical snags, according to a report by online newspaper The Earth Times.
“The problems are due to low export prices, very expensive transport fees, and some other factors that make it impossible for companies to turn a profit,” said Nguyen Quang Minh, director of Vietnam’s Department of Plant Protection.
The US market opened up to Vietnamese dragon fruit in July but only one Vietnamese fruit processor, Son Son Company, was approved by US inspectors to irradiate fruit in order to meet US hygiene standards.
However, Son Son Company’s irradiation machine is reportedly broken, and it is not clear when it will be repaired.
Queen Dragon Company has also revealed the company had ceased exports to the US after shipping its first container due to a short 10-day shelf-life after arrival in the US which the firm claims has pushed down prices from US$4.5/kg to under US$3/kg.
“We are very tired of this export, so there’s no point doing it,” said Tran Ngoc Hiep, director of Queen Dragon Company.
Vietnamese exporters also claim they are unable to compete with Thailand, which has lower shipping costs and faster transit times since almost no ultra-large container ships dock in Vietnam, and exporters must ship via trans-shipment ports such as Singapore and Hong Kong.
Local newspaper Vietnam Economy also reported that Thai dragon fruit exporters also benefit from subsidies for sending produce via airfreight. The statement, however, was not confirmed by Thai officials.
Ngoc Nguyen Van Ky, general secretary of the Vietnam Fruit Association, said it was unclear how to improve transportation to allow Vietnamese producers to compete.
“Vietnamese companies have been thinking about the high transportation fees, but there are no solutions available right now,” Mr Ky said. “We are collecting their ideas to submit to the government, so it can consider helping them.”