South African citrus growers have been frustrated for some time because they cannot get re-entry into the Vietnamese market. Although this frustration may not end soon, there is some hope that the Vietnamese market could be open for them again before the 2018 season.
“Vietnamese importers are at pains to explain the importance of South Africa regaining citrus access to the country,” said Justin Chadwick, CEO of the Citrus Growers Association of South Africa, following a visit to Vietnam after the recent Asia Fruit Logistica.
“At the moment there is a limited choice in terms of citrus supplying countries from the Southern Hemisphere and importers complain of high prices and fruit of the wrong specifications.”
Chadwick said that given the fact South Africa lost access due to an administrative problem, the delay in gaining access is very frustrating. The error occurred when South Africa, as was the case for all other countries, had to apply for continued access during a Vietnamese revision of plant health regulations.
South Africa stipulated “citrus” instead of specifying mentioning oranges, grapefruit, lemons and mandarins. As a result these products were not included on the approved permit list.
“All that remains is for a site visit and finalization of the protocol and we remain hopeful that this may be possible before the 2018 season,” said Chadwick. “With a population heading for 100m, impressive economic growth and a preference for fresh fruit and vegetables, Vietnam is an attractive market for counter-seasonal fruit.
“Vietnam is one of four Asian nations which recorded between 5-10 per cent growth in GDP in 2016; the others being Bangladesh, China and India.”