Vietnam plays an increasingly important role in the world’s seafood supply chain. Not only using domestic sources, Vietnamese companies now import input materials to process domestically for export.
Despite unfavorable conditions recently, Bidifisco still hopes it can export US$50 million worth of seafood products this year.
According to Bidifisco’s general director Cao Thi Kim Lan, 60-65% of the revenue would be from products made of import materials. The import materials are from Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines, while the target export markets are the EU, US and Japan.
Lan said these countries have more developed offshore fishing industry, therefore, they have plentiful materials. Meanwhile, Vietnam has good processing factories and competitive labor force.
“No other county in the region has such a high seafood processing capability and the quality management systems like Vietnam. Vietnam has big advantages in exporting seafood to high-end markets,” Lan said.
Duong Ngoc Minh, general director of Hung Vuong Seafood, said the company last year put a processing plant in Ben Tre into operation.
Besides the catfish processing line, the plant also has a production line that processes tuna imported from Norway as well as Alaska Pollack (Pollachius).
China is a big processor and supplier of these two kinds of fish to the European market. However, foreign companies now tend to place orders with Vietnam as its processing quality has been recognized worldwide.
Not only Hung Vuong, many other seafood companies have also installed production lines to process Alaska Pollack. It is expected that Vietnam would export 60,000 tons of this fish by 2018 and exceed China in supplying the products.
In the first nine months of the year, Vietnam imported US$800 million worth of seafood materials of different kinds, mostly shrimp, tuna and cattle fish for processing and export.
Analysts said in order to become a seafood processing base of the world, Vietnam will have to become a big seafood importer. Meanwhile, there are many obstacles to the imports.
The director of a HCM City-based seafood company said Vietnamese agencies tried to protect domestic aquaculture and they don’t want to open the door to imports.
He complained that policies on stocktaking, tax refunds and food hygiene testing were very complicated, which cost businesses a lot of time.
Le Van Quang, chair of Minh Phu Seafood Company, warned that the reliance on import materials, especially shrimp, will make Vietnam’s seafood industry less competitive. He said the state needs policies to ensure the sustainable development of domestic material sources.