What Food Does Vietnam Import?

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Vietnam’s food import industry has been growing steadily over the years due to various factors such as increasing demand for certain food items and insufficient domestic production. In this article, we will explore the top foods Vietnam imports, the reasons for importing food, import regulations, and the impact of food imports on Vietnam’s economy.

Top Food Imports in Vietnam

Vietnam, as an agricultural country, has a diverse range of food products. However, the country still needs to import certain food items to satisfy domestic demand. According to Vietnam Customs, the country imported $2.4 billion worth of food in the first quarter of 2021. Here are the top food imports in Vietnam:


Rice is a staple food in Vietnam, and the country is the world’s third-largest rice exporter. However, Vietnam still imports rice to meet the increasing demand from the food industry and the rising number of tourists. In 2020, Vietnam imported 1.5 million tonnes of rice, worth $620 million.


Wheat is another major food import in Vietnam. The country imports wheat to produce flour, which is used to make bread, noodles, and other baked goods. In 2020, Vietnam imported 6.3 million tonnes of wheat, worth $1.4 billion.

Next sections: Reasons for Importing Food in Vietnam, Import Regulations in Vietnam.

Reasons for Importing Food in Vietnam

Vietnam’s food import industry is driven by several factors, including insufficient domestic production, high demand for certain food items, and economic and trade agreements.

Insufficient domestic production

Despite being an agricultural country, Vietnam still struggles to produce enough food to meet domestic demand. Factors such as limited arable land, lack of modern farming techniques, and natural disasters affect the country’s food production. As a result, Vietnam needs to import certain food items to meet domestic demand.

High demand for certain food items

Vietnam’s growing middle class and increasing urbanization have led to changes in dietary habits. Consumers are demanding more diverse and high-quality food products, which cannot be produced domestically. Therefore, Vietnam needs to import certain food items to satisfy consumer demand.

Economic and trade agreements

Vietnam is a member of several economic and trade agreements such as the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA), the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), and the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA). These agreements allow for easier importation of certain food items from member countries, making it more cost-effective for Vietnam to import rather than produce domestically.

Import Regulations in Vietnam

Vietnam’s food import industry is regulated by several government agencies, including the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, and Vietnam Customs. These agencies are responsible for ensuring that imported food products meet safety and quality requirements.

Food safety and quality requirements

All imported food products must meet Vietnam’s food safety and quality standards. Imported food products are subject to inspection at the border, and samples are tested to ensure they meet the required standards. If the food product fails the inspection, it will be rejected and returned to the country of origin.

Import procedures and documentation

Importers must follow specific procedures and provide the necessary documentation when importing food products. The import procedures vary depending on the type of food product, but generally, importers must obtain an import license, register with the relevant government agencies, and provide a certificate of origin and other required documents.

Tariffs and taxes

Imported food products are subject to tariffs and taxes, which vary depending on the type of food product and the country of origin. The tariffs and taxes are intended to protect domestic producers and promote local production. Importers must pay the required tariffs and taxes before the food products are allowed into the country.

Impact of Food Imports on Vietnam’s Economy

The food import industry has a significant impact on Vietnam’s economy, particularly in terms of job creation, consumer spending, and trade balance.

Job Creation

The food import industry creates jobs in various sectors, such as transportation, logistics, and retail. According to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers, the seafood industry alone provides employment for more than 6 million people in Vietnam.

Consumer Spending

The increasing demand for imported food products also contributes to consumer spending in Vietnam. The rising middle class in the country has a higher purchasing power, and they are willing to pay a premium for imported food items that are perceived to be of higher quality.

Trade Balance

The food import industry also affects Vietnam’s trade balance. While the country exports a significant amount of agricultural products, it still needs to import certain food items. In 2020, Vietnam’s food trade deficit was $1.3 billion. However, the government is implementing measures to reduce the trade deficit, such as promoting domestic production and increasing exports.


In conclusion, Vietnam’s food import industry plays a crucial role in meeting domestic demand and supporting the economy. The country imports various food items, including rice, wheat, meat, seafood, dairy products, and fruits and vegetables. The reasons for importing food include insufficient domestic production, high demand, and economic and trade agreements. Import regulations ensure food safety and quality, and the impact of food imports on Vietnam’s economy includes job creation, consumer spending, and trade balance. The future outlook for Vietnam’s food import industry is positive, with the government’s efforts to promote domestic production and increase exports. As Vietnam continues to develop and modernize, the food import industry will remain an essential aspect of the country’s economy.

Xeno Saga

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