The volume of Chinese fruit reaching Vietnam collapsed by 60 percent on-year to 120,000 tons in the first 10 months of 2016, according to Hoang Trung, head of the Plant Protection Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Local consumers have been turning to other suppliers like Thailand and Australia.
Data from Vietnam Customs revealed that the country spent roughly $250 million from January-September on imports of Thai fruit, jumping by 76 percent from a year ago.
|A woman shops for imported fruits at a supermarket. (Photo: Reuters)
Spending on Australian fruit also surged by 167 percent, while China, the second largest supplier, witnessed smaller growth of 24 percent.
The fall in Chinese fruit imports has been attributed to a fear of toxic products that has gripped Vietnamese consumers over the last few years.
Bui Thi Thu Huong from Hanoi told news site VietNamNet that she stays away from fruit sourced from China finding out they are were soaked with chemicals that prevent them from going rotten for months.
A fruit trader from Ba Dinh district said that Chinese fruit used to account for 50 percent of her sales, but now she focuses mainly on homegrown products; only apples are still imported from China.
However, an official from the agriculture ministry said that Chinese fruit imports had been safe over the last 10 months.
After going through two rounds of quality inspections, the chemical residue was found to be within the permitted levels, Trung said.
According to economic experts, Chinese fruit imports may recover thanks to a zero percent tariff from 2016-2018 period under a free trade agreement between China and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which includes Vietnam.VnExpress