Fruit growers in Vietnam are facing sharp drop in prices amid the COVID-19 pandemic just as Belgian potato crop is characterised by smaller sizes and lower yields.
The heavy rain and limited sunshine in Belgium mean potatoes there are growing more slowly than average. One potato dealer’s potatoes are still smaller than usual on most plots.
“It’s officially the wettest July ever since measuring started. And that doesn’t help the potatoes grow well. However, there’s been some improvement in the last few days”, he says.
“The sun’s shining a bit more. There’s potential in the fields, but we’ll know more in two weeks. The next couple of weeks will determine the volumes. We’re hoping for dry, not too hot weather. With quite a bit of sunshine for the next little while. Then the potatoes could still catch up nicely.”
The smaller sizes are putting prices under pressure. “Current local prices are at around €0.15/kg. But those potatoes aren’t large yet. That’s why buyers are opting to import correctly-sized potatoes. That price is at about €0.30/kg”, he explains.
Canada and the US are usually significant potato producers. The question is how their harvests will turn out this year. Farmers there have to irrigate a lot. That’s due to the hot, dry weather. And that pushes up production costs.
“Though it’s generally expected that those yields will be below average. The current global processed potato products demand is high. This should also continue.”
The trader has noticed the CIPC ban. He says potatoes are now germinating a month or two sooner than before. “Normally, germination started around April. Now it’s around February, March. There are several alternatives to this inhibitor, but we can’t yet say which works best.
‘’There is a mint-based treatment, but that flavor soaks into the potatoes. And in Germany, there was a fire in an ethylene plant. Everyone in the potato sector is still searching for what works best”, says the trader.
However, nearly all kinds of fruits, from custard apple to dragon fruit to durian, have seen prices plummet on low demand.
In Dak Nong, durian is selling below VND10,000 per kilogram, while it sold at VND25,000 last year. Dan Tri quoted merchants as saying that demand is low because of COVID-19, which has forced prices down.
While durian in Vietnam is unsold, exports to Australia are selling well despite high prices. Though many cities in Australia have experienced lockdowns since the beginning of 2021, Vietnam’s Ri6 durian still sold well reports vietnaminet.vn.
The Vietnam Trade Office in Australia reported that a recent consignment of 15 tons of frozen durian exported by a Vietnamese company to Australia sold out within two days, July 23-24. The floor price was 18.99 AUD per kilogram, or VND320,000.
Soon after some Chinese border gates stopped importing dragon fruit, the domestic price dropped dramatically.
Farmers now sell dragon fruit at just VND3,000-4,000 per kilogram, down by a third compared with one week ago. With the production cost of VND10,000 per kilogram, farmers are incurring losses. Before social distancing, dragon fruit sold at VND25,000-27,000 per kilogram.
Despite the pandemic, the demand for Lang Son custard apple, or ‘Queen custard apple’ is still high thanks to low price and good taste. This type of custard apple is bigger than other varieties, weighing up to one kilogram per fruit.
The prices are lower than previous years, selling at VND15,000-25,000 per kilogram.