( Courtesy Sunkist )

Valencia, Calif.-based Sunkist Growers Inc. will be among California growers exporting navel oranges to Vietnam starting this season.

“We are very excited to bring our fresh and juicy navel oranges to Vietnam,” Jim Phillips, Sunkist president and CEO, said in a news release.

Vietnam is the ninth-largest importer of U.S. fresh fruit, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, so the addition of oranges should contribute to that growth, according to the release.

The trade program with Vietnam was finalized late last year, after agriculture officials from that country visited California orchards and developed phytosanitary protocols that growers must follow, said Casey Creamer, president of Exeter-based California Citrus Mutual.

“Now we have access to Vietnam for oranges as long as those protocols are in place,” he said.

“Sunkist’s entry to Vietnam is very timely as we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the U.S.-Vietnam bilateral relationship, one major aspect of which is agricultural trade between the two countries,” Benjamin Petlock, USDA senior agricultural attaché, said in the release.

“Sunkist Growers, among many other brands, have worked diligently for years with our government partners in Vietnam to bring in high-quality, healthy and safe fresh U.S. oranges into the market, and finally gaining market entry is a huge accomplishment,” he said.

California navels will be available in Vietnam from October through June.

Sunkist plans to build relationships with Vietnam’s top fruit distributors and retailers, according to the release.

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