Dragon fruit irradiation stateside not quite easy
By Ngoc Hung - The Saigon Times Daily
HCMC – Although in principle the U.S. will accept the direct export of Vietnam’s dragon fruits from next Monday and perform quarantine procedures there instead of in Vietnam, local fruit exporters say it is not necessarily easier for them.
The director of an exporting firm said that the dragon fruit irradiation in the U.S. offered his firm one more option, but he still wanted to have the irradiation done in Vietnam for lower risks.
According to the director, there is an irradiation facility in Iowa, and this is a suitable place to irradiate Vietnamese dragon fruits which will then be transported to other states. However, besides the irradiation cost which may be higher than in Vietnam, there is a high possibility that dragon fruits will be returned to Vietnam.
“Currently, in addition to the required irradiation, dragon fruits from Vietnam when imported into the U.S. must have no pesticide residues. If failing to meet the residue requirements in the U.S., export shipments will be returned,” he said.
Nguyen Dong Nghia, an executive of HCMC-based Hong An Export-Import Co., said that the irradiation cost in Vietnam was US$1.1 per kilogram. Therefore, dragon fruit exporters have to consider whether to have their shipments irradiated in Vietnam or in the U.S. as the irradiation cost will affect the selling price.
According to these two exporting firms, under the current practice, dragon fruits when exported to the U.S. must be directly tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Vietnam via local irradiation facilities recognized by the U.S. Dragon fruits will be tested one more time after arriving in the U.S.
Meanwhile, with the irradiation performed in the U.S., exporters may lose their goods in case such shipments fail to meet food safety and hygiene requirements.
Nguyen Thuan, director of Lan Anh Co. in Binh Thuan Province, said his firm used to export dragon fruits to the U.S. but have now shifted to Asian markets such as Japan and South Korea instead due to high transport and procedure costs in the U.S.
“In terms of profits earned from every container of dragon fruits, we will focus on Asian markets, not the U.S.,” Thuan said.
The U.S. will announce officially to the Plant Protection Department under Vietnam’s agriculture ministry about dragon fruit irradiation on August 20, but the exact date for Vietnamese dragon fruits to be irradiated in the U.S. has yet to be set as both sides will have some more meetings on this issue.