Duong Nghia Quoc, chairman of the Vietnam Pangasius Association, said the total export value of tra fish (pangasius) this year is expected to reach a record high at about US$2.2 billion.
In October and November, the consumption of tra fish in the US increased about 40% due to a reduction in anti-dumping duties on Vietnamese tra fish, while tra fish demand recovered in the EU and China maintained good consumption.
To meet demand, Mekong Delta provinces should maintain tra fish output of 1.3-1.5 million tonnes per year, Quoc said. They should focus on improving the quality of fish farming and processing more value added products.
Truong Dinh Hoe, general secretary of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), said the two main reasons for the growth in tra fish export value in the first 11 months this year included price and added-value products.
This year, tra fish outfut has not met high demand on the local market, driving the price of raw material for tra fish production and the export price up. This contributed significantly to the value of catfish exports from the beginning of the year, Hoe said.
Many enterprises have invested in processing high added-value tra fish products for export, boosting the export price and export value of tra fish, he said. In China, the volume of Vietnam’s added-value tra fish products accessing supermarkets, restaurants and fast food chains has increased strongly.
Moreover, added-value tra fish products with good quality and international certification have helped Vietnam’s tra fish exports to recover in the EU after inaccurate news broadcasts by overseas media hurt Vietnamese exports to this market.
Now, when exporting to the EU local enterprises focus on product quality, added-value products and food hygiene and safety standards instead of competitiveness in price, according to the association.
Truong Thi Le Khanh, chairwoman of Vinh Hoan Corporation in Dong Thap Province, said the export success this year is a good opportunity for the tra fish industry to recover. That has brought profit for tra fish producers, processors and exporters.
However, the high price of tra fish has made many people rush to rear tra fish.
This may lead to an oversupply of the fish in 2019. But the oversupply will not be as prolonged as in previous year, said the association. Because the market has stable demand and banks have tightened loan regulations so farmers must consider carefully before taking loans to rear tra fish.
Hoe said 2019 is expected to be a good year for producers, processors and exporters of tra fish as the export market has stable demand and standards.
Meanwhile, the domestic tra fish industry still faces many challenges such as a lack of quality fingerlings and slow innovation in technology and methods of rearing tra fish, according to the association. Vietnamese tra fish also lacks a strong brand.
To deal with these challenges, enterprises need to improve the quality of fingerlings of tra fish by using technology.
Processors should use automation technology for processing and build a transparent traceability system.
The industry also needs to review demand for tra fish in each export market to meet demand and find potential markets.
In addition, it is necessary to promote the image of tra fish, especially certified products.
Meanwhile, State management agencies need a market development fund to have a long-term strategy in building up brand of Vietnamese tra fish, build a database of catfish production and forecast for farmers and enterprises and suitable plans of farming tra fish and other kinds of freshwater fish.