American apples being sold at the Long Bien Market and several supermarkets in Hanoi are actually Chinese-grown fruit slapped with forged US labels, a Thanh Nien investigation has found.
At the Hekou Apple Market in China’s Yunnan Province and Kim Thanh Border Gate in Vietnam’s Lao Cai Province, Chinese and Vietnamese traders insisted their products were US apples.
Dinh, a major apple trader in Lao Cai, said he could fill orders as large as ten tons to Hanoi.
In Hanoi, Chinese apples are often unloaded from trucks to stalls at the Long Bien Market at night. Both wholesalers and retailers at the market are well aware they are Chinese, but all advertise them as US fruit.
“Those are fake US apples. It looks like real fruit,” a wholesaler at the market said.
“US apples sell for VND2 million per 8-kg carton. These are just VND160,000 per box. You can buy it or not, but don’t ask too much or try to bargain,” she said.
She got angry when a buyer asked for fake US labels.
“These are too cheap to have labels. They're fake US apples, just buy and resell them and no one will know. Labelled fake US apples sell for VND200,000 per box,” she said.
Another trader said that he recently imported other apples that looked exactly like US Gala and red apples.
“These new varieties have recently been grown in Gansu and Shaanxi provinces in China,” he said.
He advised retailers to clean their fruit and label them US apples: “Even the sellers mistake them for US apples.”
He said fake US origin labels for apples are also sold at the market.
At a supermarket on Minh Khai Street, US Gala apples sold for VND92,900 per kilograms and were discounted to VND71,500.
Similar apples were sold at another supermarket on Tay Son Street for VND65,900 per kilogram.
Nguyen Xuan Hai, director of the apple trading Klever Company, said US apples are much more expensive than what is being offered by these supermarkets.
“I've bought directly from a US orchard and it is not cheap,” he said.
Hai advised conscientious consumers to demand certificates of origin or customs paperwork when shopping for apples.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development are inspecting imported fruit following information that a Chinese apple remained fresh nine months after its purchase.
Agriculture Minister Cao Duc Phat also asked the Plant Protection Department to develop a plan to better screen imported fruit for prohibited preservatives.
During a government meeting held on food safety and hygiene, Phat said some residents had reported having purchased imported pears and apples at local markets that never rotted.
“The Plant Protection Department must find out if excessive preservatives were used to keep the fruit fresh for too long,” he said, adding that consumers are very concerned about pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables, including imported produce.