The last fruit in a two-tonne batch of lychee which TT Meridian Ltd imported for the first time officially under the UK-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (UKVFTA) were distributed to supermarkets and customers in the UK on the evening of June 30 (UK time).
In order to meet the standards of the UK – a fastidious market with high requirements on food hygiene and safety, TT Meridian Company, based in London and specialising in import and export between the UK, EU and Vietnam, collaborated with FUSA Organic Agriculture Joint Stock Company in Vietnam to select ‘thieu’ lychees grown at garden houses meeting Global GAP standards in Luc Ngan, Bac Giang.
In order to preserve the product during transportation and in line with the habits of the UK’s consumers, the lychees are packed in transparent plastic boxes, each weighing 1kilogramme and affixed with a traceability stamp of the Trade Promotion Agency under the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Vietnam to help consumers identify the origin of the product.
In addition, in order to ensure the freshness of lychee fruit when it reaches consumers, the batch was transported by air, according to a temperature-controlled regime during the journey, from Vietnam’s Noi Bai Airport, with transit in Singapore, and on to the UK’s Heathrow Airport.
Companies involved in the import-export process must also prepare adequate documents in advance to shorten customs clearance time and quickly bring products to large and long-standing Vietnamese supermarket chains in the UK such as Bao Long, Hanoi, Huy Minh, Longdan.
According to Thai Tran, CEO of TT Meridian Ltd, with the Brexit and the UKVFTA, the opportunity for high quality agricultural products of Vietnam to penetrate into this difficult market has increased significantly. Brexit is causing the prices of foods imported from Europe to the UK to increase due to transport costs, customs procedures, quarantine, and inspection.
The circulation of goods between the UK and the EU is no longer as free as previously because the UK has left the EU customs union, while the two sides have yet to agree on many points in agricultural products and food trade.
Meanwhile, the UKVFTA took effect, helping to reduce import tax of agricultural products from Vietnam into the UK market significantly.
However, Thai Tran also noted that the UK has very high requirements on quality, design and technical standards for imported goods as well as international certifications on quality management and occupational safety and human rights. Therefore, Vietnamese manufacturers and importers need to always pay attention to these requirements to be able to penetrate and maintain a presence in the UK market.