Vietnam’s imports of high-value seafood such as king crabs and lobsters are rising due to their falling prices, and are expected to rise even further during the Lunar New Year (Tet) Festival, experts have said.
Robert Greenan, Deputy Consul General at the US Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City, said last year exports of Alaskan seafood rose 125% to US$19 million.
Vietnam became the US’s sixth largest buyer of agricultural products and foodstuffs with imports worth US$4 billion.
According to the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute in Vietnam, demand for seafood is rising in the country, and several processing factories are moving from China to Vietnam due to tariffs.
Alaskan seafood is mostly bought by restaurants and hotels and processors. The institute aims to expand the distribution network so that more customers can buy Alaskan seafood for cooking at home.
During Tet, there is especially high demand for Alaskan king crab since it is relatively easy to cook and suitable for special occasions, according to seafood provider The Alaska Guys Vietnam. Cod fillet is also popular due to its aroma and boneless meat, making it suitable for making porridge for children and seniors.
Canada is also a large supplier of luxury seafood to Vietnam with zero tariffs under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). In 2020, Vietnam imported over US$78.5 million worth of seafood from Canada, 10% more than in 2019.
Tran Van Truong, Director of Royal Seafood Co. Ltd, said free trade agreements had reduced the prices of these products, enabling his firm to open more stores in 2020.
Demand for seafood during Tet was expected to be three times higher than normal, and so his company was increasing imports.
Online businesses are also profiting from the falling prices of luxury seafood, and are offering free shipping or pre-processing the seafood to provide more convenience to customers.