Vietnamese fruit exporters face a tough year as global competition increases, the Vietnam Fruit Association is warning.

Figures show Vietnam’s export revenues for fruit bound for China reached just $30 million last year compared to $120m in 2000.

It is thought the decline is due in part to China’s abolishment of import tax on Thai fruit, which has enabled the country to offer a cheaper product and strengthen its position in China’s market.

The European market is also throwing up challenges for Vietnamese producers. Increased competition from countries including Israel, Malaysia, Nicaragua, Ecuador and Columbia has seen market share for Vietnamese dragon fruit (thanh long) fall from 90 per cent to just 50 per cent in Europe.

The VFA said Vietnam’s weakness is its growing areas; the lack large spaces devoted to fruit cultivation means Vietnamese exporters had trouble filling large orders and maintaining consistent crop quality.

The association said it has plans to rectify this, setting up large-sale areas dedicated to growers and implementing good agricultural practices to increase the quality of its exports.

It also called for the Vietnamese government to sign agreements on plant quarantines to promote exports in new markets including the US, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand and Japan.