Vietnam is now exporting more high value products instead of raw materials to the US market.
The Ben Tre Import/Export JSC (Betrimex), for example, has been exporting coconuts to China for many years. However, Tran Van Duc, Betrimex’s general director, said the exports are unstable and the export value is low.
In an effort to increase the value of Vietnam’s coconuts, Betrimex in 2015 decided to spend US$20 million to build a factory making coconut milk for export to the US and the EU, two promising markets.
“We utilize UHT technology which allows us to better preserve the flavor of coconut and there is no need to use any preservative,” he said.
Nguyen Lam Vien, general director of Vinamit, a dried fruit maker, said Vinamit has been targeting the US market for a long time as he realized that there were latent risks in the Chinese market.
“We survey the US market every year, and attend trade fairs in the US. Vinamit’s products are sold in the US, mostly targeting Vietnamese consumers in the country,” Vien said, adding that selling products to the US not only helps build a strong brand but also brings high profits.
However, Vien said while the US is a vast market, it is very choosy and sets high requirements on quality. Therefore, Vinamit has to make products meeting standards like rivals such as Thailand.
Seafood companies are also rushing to diversify their products to boost exports to the US. Nguyen Van Dao, general director of Go Dang Seafood, said the company exports about 40 products processed from catfish to the US market.
Go Dang, like other seafood processing companies, believe they will have a better future as the US Senate has approved a draft resolution that would repeal a new catfish inspection program. But the bill has to pass the House of Representatives.
The US has become the Number 1 export market for Vietnam. Besides traditional products, the US has bought Vietnamese products with high tech content such as electronics and electronic parts, machines and equipment.
According to Nguyen Phuoc Buu Huy, deputy general director of Cadovimex 2, a seafood processing company, US requirements will force Vietnamese to improve product quality and reorganize production.
“We have BAP certificate (best aquaculture practices). We invited US agencies to come to Vietnam to visit cultivated areas and witness farming and processing,” he said.