Pangasius increases in popularity in the USA but sales decline in Europe
Sources from the industry in Viet Nam say that production will be lower in 2012. In future, an annual production of 1.2 million tonnes may be targeted, with a stronger emphasis on quality. Over the January to June period of 2012, exports from the Vietnamese pangasius sector reached a total value of USD 853.6 million. The EU was the largest importer of Vietnamese fish and accounted for 27.7% of total revenue while the US market took 22%.
Despite good demand for the product in the US, imports into the EU are waning. Overall, during the first half of 2012, about 172 000 tonnes of pangasius fillet were imported into 33 countries worldwide. The US is the single largest importer followed by Russia, Brazil and Singapore. In traditional markets, supply losses from major exporters are being compensated for by other producers.
EU imports of pangasius fillet during the first half of 2012 were 22 948 tonnes lower at 72 322 tonnes compared with the same period in 2011, indicating declining demand. The value of the imports went down by 20%, dropping to USD 199 million. However, average import prices were higher by 4.9% to USD 2.7/kg from 2011. In the UK, sales of alternative and more sustainable species of fish such as pangasius have risen sharply over the course of 2012 in some of the major supermarkets.
Pangasius continues to climb further as one of the most popular seafoods among American consumers. In a recently published report, a National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) survey indicated that pangasius was the sixth most favourite seafood in the US in 2011. With continuing economic problems to contend with, consumers are looking for value for money and pangasius compares favourably with tilapia in this regard.
During the first half of 2012 50 290 tonnes of frozen catfish were imported, 34% higher than the same period in 2011. Close to 95% of these imports were from Viet Nam. For domestic catfish producers, however, the situation is still difficult as catfish farmers continue to struggle with rising feed prices and drought conditions.
Republic of Korea
Sales of frozen fish are increasing at large discount stores as consumers increasingly look for cheaper products and those with longer shelf life. From January to August 2012, Korea imported 363 700 tonnes of frozen fish and 87 800 tonnes of frozen fillet, of which close to 40 000 tonnes was frozen pangasius fillet supplied by Viet Nam.
Industry association (VASEP) sources expect the negative trend in EU imports of pangasius to continue in the coming months, as there is no sign of economic recovery in most European countries, although the popularity of newly-available ASC-certified pangasius is expected to increase. In the US, NMFS statistics show strong and increasing demand for pangasius on the whole, but buyers are likely to resist the higher price of the certified product as economic difficulties continue.
Source: FAO Globefish