In the first 4 months of 2019, seafood was one of the few agricultural products that maintained good export growth. However, the competitive pressure for the industry is still relatively large, especially from different movements between shrimp and tra fish.
According to the report of the Department of Agricultural Product Processing and Development (Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development), the value of seafood export in April 2019 was estimated at US $ 694 million, bringing the value of seafood export in the first 4 months of 2019 to US $ 2.5 billion, up 2.4% over the same period in 2018. Japan, America, China and South Korea were the top 4 import markets of Vietnam seafood in the first 3 months of 2019, accounting for 53.5% of the total seafood export value.
However, in the seafood industry, the growth rate of each item has opposite movements. Specifically, tra fish export in April 2019 was estimated at US $ 161 million, bringing the export value in the first 4 months to US $ 635 million, up 4.3% compared to the same period in 2018.
Meanwhile, shrimp products tended to decrease in export turnover. Accordingly, the value of shrimp exports in April 2019 was estimated at US $ 295 million, bringing shrimp export value in the first 4 months of 2019 to US $ 913 million, down 10.5% compared to the same period last year. The cause of the decline in export value came from its low price in the world market due to abundant supply worldwide.
Moreover, in the first 2 months of 2019, the US – a major seafood export market of Vietnam reduced the import of shrimp, tuna, tilapia, cod, squid, etc. compared to the same period in 2018; while increasing imports of tra fish and crab. This is the reason why Vietnam became the second largest seafood supply market for the US in the first 2 months of 2019. According to the National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS), in the first 2 months of 2019, US seafood imports from Vietnam reached 41,400 tons, worth US $ 263.27 million, up 32.9% in volume and 29.3% in value compared to the same period in 2018. Vietnam’s seafood market share in total US imports increased from 6.43% in the first 2 months of 2018 to 9.28% in the first 2 months of 2019.
It can be seen that, despite achieving many positive results, seafood export still faces great competitive pressure from competitors. In fact, Ecuador exported about 53,405 tons of frozen shrimp in March 2019, 4,602 tons higher than the previous record month and 40% higher than the export volume in March 2018. In terms of value, Ecuadorian shrimp exports have increased by 23% year on year, up to US $ 309 million.
Even though, bright opportunities still can be seen for seafood processing and export industry. The Vietnam – EU Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) can be approved in June or July, 2019. It can be considered good news for Vietnamese seafood enterprises in general and tra fish industry in particular because as soon as going in effect, 90% of tariffs on seafood exports to EU will be reduced to 0% in 3-4 years (the import tax rate on the EU is currently about 14%).
According to Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Phung Duc Tien, Vietnam’s key seafood products such as tra fish and shrimp will be developed in the direction of apply modern technology, focus on in-depth development, improved quality and value, diversifying products according to each market segment, in line with international standards.
According to VASEP representative, in recent years, Vietnamese enterprises have complied with the sustainable farming standards of the world in controlling from breeds, production to processing. For captured products, Vietnam has complied with the legal requirements of European’s. VASEP is researching to establish a market development fund, facilitating branding and overseas sales networks, similar to the Norway’s salmon. At the same time, tra fish has been identified as a national key product and has its own specific policy. Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is cooperating with Ministry of Industry and Trade to build brand of tra fish products in the world market.
Deputy General Director of Mitsui & Co Europe – Javier Cordova said that European consumers are very concerned about health, so in order to increase sales to this market, Vietnam needs to increase its traceability as buyers need to know where the products come from, the types of feed used in aquaculture have not contained antibiotic residues, and it is best to use organic feed in aquaculture for sustainable long-term development.