Vendors sell fruit at stalls on a street in Hanoi, Vietnam. File photo: GETTY IMAGES/ BLOOMBERG/ LUONG THAI LINH
Vendors sell fruit at stalls on a street in Hanoi, Vietnam. File photo: GETTY IMAGES/ BLOOMBERG/ LUONG THAI LINH

Hanoi —  Vietnam is seeking to export avocados to the US, the Southeast Asian country said on Thursday, after US President Donald Trump’s threat to shut the US-Mexico border raised fears American consumers could see a shortage.

Avocado prices in the US jumped by nearly 50% in April on fears that Trump would halt shipments from Mexico, which accounts for some 80% of its supply. Both processors and wholesalers began to stockpile the fruit as a result.

The US imported more than 900,000 tons of Mexican avocados in 2018 worth nearly $2.1bn, 10 times the value it buys from the rest of the world, according to crop forecaster Gro Intelligence.

Avocados, typically used in guacamole or spread on toast, could be a high export earner for Vietnam, the government said.

Avocado consumption is on the rise in Vietnam as living standards improve, fuelling interest among domestic buyers.

“Avocados are increasingly seen as a quality fruit that can be used in cooking and beauty products for women,” said Le Van Duc, deputy head of the department of crop production at Vietnam’s agriculture ministry.

“The area of avocado plantation in Vietnam is rising due to that higher demand,” Duc said .

That trend has also been driven by weak coffee prices, which have prompted Vietnamese farmers to switch to other crops, including avocados, according to Duc’s department.

Coffee prices hit their lowest in six years in May on fresh concerns over the US-China trade war and strong sales from Brazil.

Vietnam already exports a small volume of avocados to the EU, but has not yet managed to enter the US market, which is dominated by Mexican supply.

Duc said it was too early to tell if Vietnam’s drive to export avocados to the US will be successful.

“There will be lengthy negotiations, and more calculations are needed regarding the possible production scale and the quality to compete with other producing countries,” Duc said.

Reuters