Vietnam niche fruit growers and processors are looking forward to realizing a 30-50% increase in passion fruit exports as they eagerly await the start of harvest season in November.
Sales to France, the company’s largest overseas market, says Daniel Huynh, CEO of Viet Exotic Co., Ltd, are expected to more than double this year as demand continues to see explosive growth.
Our company harvests and ships passion fruit to France and other countries in the EU throughout the year, said Mr Huynh, but our biggest season starts in late October and runs through mid-April.
He said Viet Exotic Co., Ltd elected to forego the larger Asian market, which has obvious advantages of proximity and size in favour of the niche markets in the EU for reasons of profitability.
Orders in the Asian market are generally for larger quantities of fruit that we simply can’t handle. As well, the profit margins are much too thin.
France is Viet Exotic’s favourite and largest EU market with relatively stable prices in every part of the year. In addition, the company ships passion fruit on a regular and recurring basis to Switzerland, Holland, Germany and Italy.
He said his company ships four metric tons of passion fruit every week to the EU market by air, adding that meeting the tough European quality standards has been a major undertaking.
Most of our fruit is sourced from local smallholders who require a great deal of oversight to ensure compliance with the strict EU standards.
The major hurdle we face is the overuse and abuse of pesticides so prevalent in Vietnam agriculture, so we have to spend an inordinate amount of time ensuring our suppliers comply with EU rules.
There's a lot of work that goes into supervising the farms to ensure we only process clean fruit.
In addition, Mr Daniel noted that Viet Exotic imports its passion fruit seedlings from Taiwan for quality control purposes.
He said his person favourite variety is Tainon One from Taiwan and it is also the biggest seller in Europe.
Vietnam growers have decent varieties that are fine but, he said—however, Viet Exotic prefers getting seedlings from Taiwan as they are assured of a good quality for export which is the number one concern.
He also added that sourcing the seedlings isn’t as easy as it sounds.
Seedling imports require the authorization of the Vietnam government, which is very strict and specific on the quantity and quality of seedlings being brought into the country.
Despite the obstacles, he believes that the market for passion fruit will continue to grow in the EU, noting there is ample opportunity for Vietnamese niche fruit growers if they work smart, hard and ensure proper standards are met.