Cheap Chinese vegetable and fruit products have been imported in large amounts by several parties into Vietnam and overwhelmed the domestic market. Some of them are wrongfully labelled as Vietnamese goods to help buyers earn illegal profits.
These low-priced imports, which have dominated both offline and online markets in Vietnam include those goods in high demand particularly during the upcoming festive Lunar New Year (Tet) season. They include dried fruits and fruit jams, and vegetable products, like carrots, potatoes and onions.
Many e-commerce websites have also attracted consumer attention as they were offering ‘dried green grapes’ (raisins) originated from Ninh Thuan, a south-central Vietnamese province, for only Dong 50,000 – 80,000 (US$2.2 – US$3.5) per kg, far cheaper than normal market prices of the famous specialty.
A grape grower in Ninh Thuan confirmed that grapes grown in the province have seeds and taste a bit sour, as compared to those advertised online which are seedless and sweeter in taste, typical of Chinese green grapes.
Genuine Ninh Thuan raisins are often sold for at least Dong 200,000 ($8.70) per kg, while dried seedless grapes advertised as Ninh Thuan raisins are very likely to be Chinese imports.
Not only raisins (grapes) but kiwis, other fruits and vegetables are also mislabelled as Vietnamese or even from other countries like Australia so that the sellers/traders could earn huge profits. According to a spokesperson, “Many Chinese farming products, like carrots, potatoes and cabbages are priced at about Dong 10,000 (US$0.43) lower than the same domestic products for each kg.
Online shopping platforms like Shopee and Lazada have applied stricter control measures to suppliers while allowing consumers to return ‘unsatisfactory’ purchased items. Despite the measures, many of these suppliers had registered false information about their products. Not all counterfeit (mislabelled) items can be tracked and effectively controlled.