Jan 25, 2011
11:12 AMOut of the Orchard
As is customary for early January, an overseas visit to several Washington apple markets was warranted. I had the pleasure of traveling to Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Kuala Lumpur, and Jakarta reviewing Washington Apple Commission programs and meeting with importers, wholesalers, and retailers. Today, I would like to provide you with insight into an exciting market – Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Ho Chi Minh (HCM) is the largest city in Vietnam with 10 million inhabitants of a country total population of 87 million. The currency is the Dong, which trades at $19,500 for every U.S.$1. Retail (Co-Op Mart, Big C, Metro, FiviMart & Lotte) sales of Washington apples are estimated at 20%, with the balance sold at small local fruit stands. While China enjoys duty-free access, Washington’s current duty of 12% has not deterred imports that have increased 283% since 2006. This crop year is no exception, with a new record high being established (341,045 boxes through 1/15/2011) which is 68.5% ahead of last year.
Vietnam is an exciting market for several reasons; improved varietal consumer interest, increased breadth of sizing, and the ability to pay top dollar for high quality fruits. Although Gala remains the primary variety of interest, Red Delicious, Granny Smith, and Fuji have made tremendous strides in market penetration.
For an ‘old’ industry traveler such as me, Vietnam provided a breath of fresh air. Everyone we met with—whether wholesaler, importer or retailer—was excited about Washington State apples and hungry for more shipments. In addition, your Washington representative, Francis Lee, is aggressive and upbeat about the future possibilities of the Vietnamese market. As the apple commission’s promotional program expands to the outlying areas, I am comfortable in knowing you have a good steward of our industry spreading the good news of Washington State apples.