Along with rising demand ahead of the Lunar New Year, strawberries originating in Da Lat, a popular tourist town in Vietnam’s Central Highlands, have become a victim of counterfeit fruits sourced from China.
The Da Lat strawberry is one of the most favorite fruits to enjoy or to gift during Tet as the harvest season takes place from December to April.
Located in Lam Dong Province, Da Lat’s year-round cool weather is perfect for growing this type of fruit.
The Lunar New Year begins on February 16, with preparation and celebration often carried out one week before and after the date.
A large number of Chinese strawberries have been imported into the local market and disguised as the Da Lat specialty, causing confusion for many customers.
In order to help buyers identify the real Da Lat fruits, Le Thi Thanh Nga, an official from the Lam Dong Plant Protection Department, has highlighted the different characteristics between the two types of strawberries.
In terms of shape and size, Da Lat strawberries are not as big as their Chinese counterparts, while each of the fruits has a slightly different shape, unlike those sourced from China which are mostly identical.
Da Lat strawberries are soft but do not have smooth skin; the reddish color is also not even across the surface of the fruit.
Chinese strawberries look smoother but are not as soft. The fruits are evenly red.
The flesh of Da Lat strawberries is light red mixed with white, while that of Chinese strawberries is pure red.
Da Lat strawberries also have a distinctive scent and taste that cannot be found in their Chinese equivalents.
In addition, Da Lat strawberries will begin withering after two days, while Chinese fruits are still fresh after seven to ten days.
According to the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, strawberry farms throughout Da Lat are expected to produce some 300 metric tons of the fruits this Lunar New Year holiday.
As of February 9, Da Lat strawberries sold for VND70,000 (US$3) to VND120,000 ($5) per kilogram, while those cultivated with hi-tech methods were offered at VND200,000 ($9) to VND400,000 ($18) a kilogram.