Monday , June 24 2024

King orange prices hit new low as demand slumps

King orange prices have sunk to VND2,000-4,000 (US$0.08-0.16) per kilogram at the farm gate, half its previous lowest reached in June, but still not many merchants are buying the fruit.

Oanh, who owns an orchard in southern Dong Nai Province, says she recently harvested three tonnes of oranges but could not sell them.

Since they had already ripened, she had to lower her price to VND2,000-3,000 a kilogram to try and sell them before they rotted, resulting in a marginal loss.

Similarly, Thanh’s orange orchard in southern Vinh Long Province too made a small loss.

“My family will not have enough money for the next crop,” he says with a sigh.

Vinh Long king oranges. Photo by Huong Nguyen

Vinh Long king oranges. Photo by Huong Nguyen

At traditional markets and on online stores in HCMC, king orange prices are at an all-time low. Merchants are selling it at VND8,000 or even cheaper, at VND7,000, when bought in bulk.

But the low prices have not helped improve demand.

Loan, who runs a fruit store on Pham Van Chieu Street, HCMC, says sales are 30% down.

Many merchants say the orange also has to compete with better alternatives like the Vinh variety, whose harvest is 10-15% more than last year, and other cheap fruits imported from China.

“In the last three days I have only sold a few dozen kilograms of king oranges. So I have stopped buying them and switched to tangerine and Vinh orange, both of which are more in demand,” Loan says.

Nguyen Huong, a merchant in HCMC who usually buys king oranges in Vinh Long, says: “Last year I sold 3-5 tonnes a day, but only 1-1.5 tonnes this year.”

In HCMC’s Tam Binh District, type 1, the highest quality, is sold at VND4,000, type 2 at VND3,000 and bulk price at VND2,000, according to a report by the Vinh Long Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

It explains that demand for the fruit has decreased sharply while stocks have been piling up due to excessive supply.

According to agriculture departments in the Mekong Delta, stocks have reached millions of tonnes, including one million tonnes in Vinh Long alone.

Farmers, bitter about last season’s losses, have since been growing king oranges perfunctorily, leading to misshapen products, which drag down prices even further.

Agriculture departments in the Mekong Delta are working to promote the fruit in HCMC’s industrial zones, Binh Duong and the north, encouraging food processing businesses to use it as an ingredient in making new products.

Since May the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s department of crop production has been discussing quality standards with Chinese regulators to export citrus fruits to their country.

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