Supplies and prices
As pangasius farmers in Viet Nam struggle to keep afloat, sources of production are diversifying, with the Philippines and Indonesia now actively promoting production and consumption of pangasius in their domestic markets.
In the first quarter of 2012, exports of pangasius were valued at USD 425 million. The industry association says that tra fish exports could reach USD 2 billion this year if the industry is afforded more equitable financial and economic conditions and annual bank interest rates fall below 15%.
The USA is the largest single market for pangasius from Viet Nam, taking a 73% share of its exports with a value of USD 82 million. Export to this market was higher by 49% compared with same period in 2011.
Exports to the EU totalled USD 113 million with Spain being the leading market followed by Netherlands, Germany, Italy and the UK.
Meanwhile, farm gate prices of tra catfish have plunged by 28% to about VND 20 000 (USD 0.95) a kilogram from about VND 28 000 (USD 1.35) a kilogram in April.
Frozen pangasius fillet is now listed under the new HS code 03046200 (previously 03042903). In the first quarter, imports of frozen pangasius fillet into the EU fell significantly by 27% in volume and 22% in value from the same period in 2011. The largest supplier to this market is Viet Nam, although supplies fell by 33% from the same period last year.
Pangasius imports into the USA strengthened in the first quarter of 2012 by 43% from the same period last year. Viet Nam is the leading source with a 41% rise in supply. The USA remains as the largest single market for Vietnamese pangasius.
Imports of pangasius into Southeast Asia have generally slowed down. In the first three months of 2012, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia imported lower quantities of pangasius while imports into Malaysia were up by 24% from the same period in 2011. In 2011, India imported 716 tonnes of pangasius fillet from Viet Nam, up from 157 tonnes in 2010. Imports were mostly directed to the catering trade where this species is popular.
Intensive promotion of pangasius in the domestic market continues to take place. Recently the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in the Davao region called on stakeholders to actively participate in the promotion of pangasius as a family staple food. Pangasius is currently sold at PHP 185 per kg (USD 4.43).
Medical experts have raised an alarm over the growing numbers of Asian fish imports to Australia that contain banned antibiotics. Australia imports seafood mainly from China, Thailand and Viet Nam, and these imports have been growing over the years.
Considering the problems faced by the pangasius industry in Viet Nam, the target export of USD 2 billion might be difficult to achieve. Meanwhile, leading tra catfish exporters agreed to impose a minimum price of USD 2-2.2 per pound on shipments to the USA for the remaining months of the year in a move to ensure fair competition for Vietnamese tra catfish. Existing markets in most of Asia are likely to be stable, supported by the demand from domestic markets.
Source: FAO Globefish