As the Lunar New Year (Tet) holiday draws near, consumers brace for the annual onslaught of Chinese dried fruits and jams bearing misleading labels to hit their local markets.
Dried fruits and jams are a hot commodity at An Dong Market in District 5 and Binh Tay Market in District 6, two shopping areas residents in Ho Chi Minh City depend up to purchase everything they need for the upcoming Tet holiday season.
Unfortunately, buyers may not be getting what they paid for.
A recent report by Thanh Nien (Young People) newspaper revealed the sad truth that most of the cheap jams and dried fruits labeled as ‘Made in Vietnam’ or imported from other countries in these markets actually originated in China.
Thanh Nien reporters were shocked when two different vendors at An Dong market gave different information about the same box of dried dates – one claiming it was made in Egypt while the other claimed India.
Both sellers did, however, agree on the price: VND60,000 (US$2.60) per kilogram, far cheaper than the VND380,000 ($16.50) per kg Egyptian dried dates really cost.
Similarly, traders at Binh Tay Market offered a box of ‘American’ yellow raisins for VND90,000 ($4) a kg despite the current market value of VND200,000 ($8.67) per kg for genuine American yellow raisins.
Another seller asked a customer to try a dried persimmon, declaring it a “South Korean persimmon” that costs VND110,000 ($4.7) a kg, even though Chinese characters appeared on its packaging.
Meanwhile, real South Korean dried persimmon sold at imported fruit stores can cost up to VND260,000 ($11.2) per kilogram.
‘Australian’ macadamia nuts at both markets were being offered in nondescript plastic bags for VND220,000 - VND230,000 ($9.54-$10) per kilogram, alongside a claim that buyers can sell the nuts online for double the price.
The end of the lunar year is known as a time for buyers to be wary of mislabeled products.
In the first few days of 2019, authorities in southern Vietnam uncovered several instances of goods being smuggled from China, including a truck carrying 462kg of falsely labeled dried persimmons, according to Thanh Nien.