When mentioning agricultural exports in general, and Vietnamese chili pepper as a specific product, the Chinese market is often the first market that comes to mind. However, since March 2020, the volume of chili peppers exported to the Chinese market has significantly declined.
With restricted access to the Chinese market, the prices of chili peppers have plummeted in many regions, especially in the Central Central provinces. For example, during the current harvest season in Binh Dinh province, farmers are not pleased with the phrase "good season, low prices" as this year's prices have dropped significantly compared to previous years. Despite having abundant and ripe chili peppers, traders are purchasing them for only 8,000 to 9,000 Vietnamese dong per kilogram. In contrast, the prices ranged from 25,000 to 40,000 Vietnamese dong per kilogram in previous years. Currently, Binh Dinh province cultivates chili peppers on over 2,000 hectares, an increase compared to previous years. Many farmers switched from growing peanuts and watermelons to chili peppers last year due to high chili pepper prices, but they did not anticipate the sharp drop in prices this year.
A similar situation is occurring in Quang Ngai and Quang Nam provinces. Despite being in the main harvest season, only a few farmers are going to the fields to harvest chili peppers. The prices have dropped so low that a whole day's work of harvesting would only cover the labor costs. Furthermore, in many areas, there are no traders available to purchase the chili peppers.
The question arises: if not China, where else can Vietnamese fresh chili peppers go?
According to surveys conducted by BSA, South Korea is the second-largest market for this product, with estimated annual sales in the tens of millions of dollars. In South Korea, there are over 80 purchasing partners, while in China, there are only about 17 dominant import partners for chili peppers. Even closer, Singapore is a country that imports chili peppers from Vietnam with a value of no less than 5 million USD in 2020. Therefore, it is a market that deserves attention after the South Korean market. Currently, the Singapore market favors spicy chili peppers and fresh bell peppers.
According to data collected by BSA, there are more than 20 export companies supplying chili peppers to over 30 Singaporean partners. This market still holds great potential for exploitation. Thailand, a country with a tradition of using chili peppers in its cuisine, is also a significant importing partner for fresh chili peppers from Vietnam, following Singapore. Specifically, Thai hot chili peppers are popular products in the Thai market through four import partners, with an equivalent trading value of 3 million USD per year.
The decline in chili pepper exports to the Chinese market has posed significant challenges for Vietnamese farmers and traders. However, it is crucial to explore alternative markets to ensure the sustainability of the chili pepper industry in Vietnam. The potential markets for Vietnamese chili pepper exports include South Korea, Singapore, and Thailand.