Vietnam officially exports fresh durian fruits to its biggest market, China, following an official quota. Next to Thailand, Vietnam is the second country to receive official permission from the General Administration of Customs of China to gain market access for fresh durians.
Hoang Trung, Head of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s plant protection department, said that the batch of 20 containers with hundreds of kilograms would be shipped from the central highlands province of Dak Lak under a protocol signed by both countries.
Before Vietnam earned the official documentation, Vietnamese farmers had to transport the fruit to the border without any guarantee if there were any buyers waiting for them. Most days, they are forced to bring their products back to their hometowns, causing losses and wasted efforts.
However, exporting under the official quota means exporters and buyers sign a contract before delivery, setting out higher quality standards and farmers face lower risks.
Durians are China’s most valuable fresh fruit import, with 822,000 metric tons worth $4.21 billion imported in 2021. Vietnam’s advantage is that China couldn’t grow the fruit in the provinces of Yunnan and Hainan, as well as in the Guangxi Region.
In July this year, Vietnam and China signed bilateral phytosanitary protocols for fresh durians after over two years of negotiations. “The protocols stipulate that Vietnamese durians can be imported into China through all border gates where the GACC allows the import of fruit. The large majority of Vietnamese fruit is currently transported to China via overland crossings on the nearly 1,300-kilometer-long land border between the two countries,” reads a report from a Chinese media Produce Report.
The Chinese media added that the protocols also specify a range of requirements that Vietnam's growers, packers, and exporters must follow for China-bound durians. For instance, Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development must maintain lists of registered orchards and packing houses, which the MARD and the GACC must jointly approve.
Moreover, the protocols also list a series of pests of concern, which include various species of fruit flies and mealybugs. Orchards and packing houses must take steps to reduce the chance of infestation with these pests of concern or their eggs or spores through steps such as the implementation of GAP plans and thorough inspection and cleaning of the fruit.
In 2021, Vietnam’s durian production reached 642,600 metric tons, an increase of 15% from the year before. In the first six months of this year, durian exports to China were up 123% to US$2.86 million, according to Vietnam Customs.
Not only in Asia, but Vietnamese durian is also a sought-after produce in Australia. Last year, the Vietnam Trade Office in Australia reported that a shipment of 15 tons of frozen Vietnamese durians imported into the Land Down Under had completely sold out within just two days.
Vietnamese Ri6 durians have already made an impression on the Australian market, gaining a reputation for excellent quality. As of August 2021, the retail price of whole durians is AU$18.99 (US$14.00) per kilo, while peeled durians can sell for as much as AU$25 (US$18.43) per kilo.
Meanwhile, in the domestic market, the durian prices locally have risen in 2021, with wholesale prices at one point reaching 60,000–70,000 Vietnamese dong (US$2.64–3.08) per kilo and retail prices at grocery stores and food markets sitting around VND90,000–100,000 (US$3.96–4.40).
Vietnamese durians are mainly harvested from April to the end of July, with a second season from October to March of the following year.