Updated: Aug 30
Vietnamese sweet potato industry is making strides towards exporting to China, with 13 packaging facilities and 70 sweet potato cultivation regions meeting the necessary requirements for export. The main focus is on regions with large-scale sweet potato cultivation, such as Gia Lai, Dong Thap and Vinh Long.
Previously, Vietnam's sweet potatoes were exported to China through unofficial channels, facing fluctuating prices and challenges with customs clearance. However, in November of last year, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Vietnam and the General Administration of Customs of China signed a Memorandum of Understanding regarding quarantine requirements for sweet potatoes products. This agreement mandates that each export shipment of fresh sweet potatoes to China must be accompanied by the necessary certificates, plant quarantine information from the cultivation regions, and details about packaging facilities. Additionally, the sweet potatoes must meet food safety and hygiene standards, particularly in terms of not being contaminated with harmful pests and pathogens that are of concern to China.
Vietnamese Sweet Potatoes Have the Opportunity to Export to China through Official Channels.
According to information from the Plant Protection Department, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Vietnam, the General Administration of Customs of China has recently announced the approval of a list of packaging facilities and sweet potato cultivation regions in Vietnam that meet the conditions for export to China.
Specifically, through online inspections and technical exchanges, China has confirmed that there are 13 packaging facilities and 70 sweet potato cultivation regions in Vietnam that are eligible for export, with an annual output of approximately 1.2 - 1.3 million tons. It is expected that within the next month, Vietnam's first shipment of sweet potatoes will officially enter the Chinese market.
Among the 70 eligible sweet potato cultivation regions for export to China, Vinh Long province has the highest number with 27 region codes, followed by Dong Thap with 22 region codes, and Gia Lai with 18 region codes permitted for export to China. Quang Ninh,Thanh Hoa and Long An provinces each have one region code for sweet potato cultivation eligible for export.
Vinh Long province is the locality with the largest sweet potato cultivation area in the Mekong Delta region. In recent years, there have been periods when sweet potato prices were as low as 1,500 - 2,000 Vietnam Dong per kilogram, while the production cost was about 5,000 - 6,000 Vietnamese đồng per kilogram, leading to losses for farmers and a reduction in the cultivation area.
With the official approval for sweet potato exports to China, Vietnamese farmers and the sweet potato industry can look forward to accessing a major market and expanding their business opportunities. This development could have a positive impact on the agricultural sector and contribute to the economic growth of Vietnam.
The Sweet Potato Capital's First Official Export Shipment to China.
On the morning of April 19, 2023, in Binh Tan district, Vinh Long province - the sweet potato capital of the Mekong Delta - the ceremony to announce the first sweet potato export shipment from Vietnam to China took place.
This export shipment consists of 28 tons of sweet potatoes, exported by Song Toan Phat Trading Services Company. The supply chain involves several companies and packaging facilities. The two Chinese importing companies are Cat Tuong - Quang Tay Transport Company and Quang Tay - Thinh Hoa Import-Export Trading Company.
Local sweet potato farmers have been gradually transitioning from traditional cultivation methods to adopting advanced scientific and technical practices. They keep detailed field notebooks and ensure proper timing for fertilization and plant protection measures to meet food safety standards, optimize production costs, and increase income per unit of cultivated area.
Over time, the agriculture sector in Vinh Long province has collaborated with relevant authorities, localities, and farmers to continuously promote and encourage farmers to improve their agricultural techniques, harvesting methods, and implement scientific and technical achievements to enhance productivity. This approach aims to produce high-quality products that meet strict requirements for food safety, hygiene, and consumer health based on international standards.
This milestone marks an important step for Vietnam's sweet potato industry, opening up new opportunities in the Chinese market and enhancing the country's agricultural exports. The adoption of modern agricultural practices and adherence to food safety standards are critical factors in ensuring the competitiveness and sustainable growth of the sweet potato sector in Vietnam.
On November 9, 2022, the Vietnamese Embassy in China sent an official telegram No. TCOCD1904 to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, announcing that the General Administration of Customs of China had signed the Protocol on export of sweet potatoes and exports. Bird's nest (swallow's nest) from Vietnam to China. Thus, sweet potatoes and bird's nest will be the 12th and 13th agricultural products officially exported to the Chinese market after 11 fruits including: dragon fruit, longan, rambutan, mango, jackfruit, watermelon, banana , mangosteen, litchi and durian.
This achievement presents both challenges and opportunities for the sweet potato market.
Exporting sweet potatoes to a major global market like China opens up new avenues for growth and expansion. With its large population and increasing demand for nutritious and diverse food options, China offers a lucrative opportunity for sweet potato producers to tap into a vast consumer base.
However, entering the Chinese market comes with its share of challenges. Adherence to strict quality and safety standards, compliance with import regulations, and ensuring timely shipments can be daunting for exporters. Additionally, competition from local producers and other international suppliers in China's market poses a significant challenge that must be carefully navigated.
Nevertheless, the potential rewards are substantial. Exporting sweet potatoes to China can not only boost revenue for growers and producers but also contribute to the local economy and agricultural sector. It can also promote the image of the sweet potato capital as a reliable and quality-driven supplier in the global market.
Currently, the total area of sweet potato cultivation in Vietnam is approximately 100,000 hectares, with a total production ranging from 1.2 to 1.3 million tons. With the successful opening of the Chinese market for sweet potatoes and strict regulations regarding production and packaging processes, sweet potato-producing regions must standardize their procedures to meet the import market's requirements. As a result, there are promising prospects for increased sweet potato exports.