Vietnamese lychees have hit French retail shelves for the first time, according to government website The 500kg trial shipment is being distributed through supermarket chain Thanh Binh Jeune in its Paris and Lyon stores.

Vietnamese exporters have been working to broker the deal for over 12 months, after the trade office of the Vietnamese Embassy in France identified an opportunity for the offering. Vietnamese commercial counsellor Nguyen Canh Cuong told that there was already a strong demand for lychees amongst French consumers, with imports from South Africa and Madagascar already entrenched in the market.

Should the trial programme prove successful, an additional 7 tonnes of the fruit is expected to be exported to France from the South East Asian nation this season.

The move comes at an optimal time for the Vietnamese industry, which lost access to the Chinese market last year. Since the shut-out, Vietnamese exporters have won access to the Australian and US markets, with exports to both of these nations set to get underway this month.