Most Americans think of Vietnam as the under-developed, small Southeast Asia country that fought France and later the U.S. to a standstill now four decades ago.

However, modern Vietnam is one of American agriculture’s biggest customers and is rapidly becoming a major power in Asian economics.

Modern day Vietnam has a higher population than any country in Europe, more than 90 million in 2012.

The economic statistics of Vietnam sound a bit like China from a decade ago. Most economists contend Vietnam is 20 years behind China in terms of economic growth, but will likely make up that difference in less than five years.

In just one year, from 2010 to 2011, food consumption in Vietnam jumped by 11.5 percent, grocery retail by 15 percent, soft drink consumption by 7.5 percent and alcohol consumption by 20 percent.

In the past five years beef and pork consumption in Vietnam have more than doubled. Perhaps the most telling statistic about Vietnamese economic growth is the jump in number of cell phones from less than five million in 2005 to more than 125 million this year.

In Vietnam, more than 25 percent of the population is under 16 years of age. The literacy rate is 94 percent and already the country is the sixth largest pork producing country in the world and the third largest in aquaculture production.

What does this dramatic growth mean for U.S. and Southeast grain and livestock producers?

“It means an outstanding opportunity today and more so in the future,” says Roy Bardole, U.S. Soybean Export Council chairman.

Last year Vietnam imported nearly a million metric tons of corn. By 2015 that number is expected to jump to 1.5 million tons and increase to 1,850,000 tons by 2020.