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Vietnamese lychees sell well in Australia despite uncompetitive price

The Vietnamese lychees exported to Australia, the first of its kind licensed to be shipped to the foreign market starting in May, has already sold out, far better than expectations, government website chinhphu.vn reported.

The Vietnamese lychees exported to Australia, the first of its kind licensed to be shipped to the foreign market starting in May, has already sold out, far better than expectations, government website chinhphu.vn reported.
The Vietnamese lychees exported to Australia, the first of its kind licensed to be shipped to the foreign market starting in May, has already sold out, far better than expectations, government website chinhphu.vn reported.

About 30 metric tons of the Vietnamese fruits have already been consumed by Australian shoppers since being put on sale on Monday last week in Melbourne, in the state of Victoria, following a program called “Vietnamese Lychee Day.”

The program, co-run by the Vietnam Trade Office under the Vietnamese Embassy and the Vietnam Business Association in Australia, was welcomed by overseas Vietnamese and Vietnamese students, as well as Australian and international travelers in Melbourne, Tran Ba Phuc, chairman of the association, told chinhphu.vn.

The Vietnamese fruits can compete with Chinese lychees given their quality and nice-looking skin, Phuc added.

Nguyen Thi Hoang Thuy, a commercial counselor at the Vietnamese Embassy in Australia, told VnExpress  newspaper last week that the program, which ended on Saturday, was aimed at promoting Vietnamese lychees to Australian consumers during their first-ever appearance in the country.

As sales of the fruits have fared better than expectations, there will be an additional 10 metric tons of lychees shipped to Australia, Thuy said.

According to Thuy, many overseas Vietnamese running supermarkets and restaurants also want to buy lychees in bulk for re-distribution.

She added that as the importers and retailers are members of the Vietnam Business Association in Australia, they were willing to join the promotional program for the fruits without much care about the profit they could earn from selling them.

On July 1, the program was simultaneously launched in three main Vietnamese communities in Cabramatta, Bankstown and Marrickville, in the state of New South Wales.

However, the Vietnamese lychee has to compete with the Chinese fruit, which is 3-4 Australian dollars per kilogram cheaper.

The main reason for this is that Chinese lychees are transported to Australia by sea, while the Vietnamese fruit is shipped by air.

However, the Vietnamese fruit has been embraced by consumers, while they are still vigilant about the Chinese fruit due to food safety issues, she added.

But Phuc, chairman of the Vietnam Business Association in Australia, told Tuoi Tre that Vietnamese lychees can compete with Chinese rivals as they ripen naturally, so they have nice-looking skin and flesh, while the Chinese fruits are ripened artificially.

Though there are about 300,000 Vietnamese people living Australia, the upcoming promotional activities will focus on Australian consumers, Phuc said.

However, according to the chief of the association, to build the brand and create a long-term foothold in Australia, Vietnamese farmers should continue improving fruit quality.

Thuy also said that for the fruits to compete with foreign rivals in the Australian market in the long run, their price should be lowered by applying many processes simultaneously at home, like establishing packing and fruit radiation facilities in the northern region.

Vietnam Airlines should also continue subsidizing the transport of the fruits, and the exporters should stringently comply with Australian quarantine regulations in order to avoid the costs incurred in quarantine, labor, storage and re-processing if some batches fail to meet standards when arriving in Australia, she added.