Tuna catching in Phu Yen (Photo: VNA)
According to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), in July, earnings from tuna export were estimated at 48.4 million USD. The major eight Vietnamese tuna importers were the US, the EU, Israel, ASEAN, Japan, Canada, Mexico and China.
VASEP General Secretary Truong Dinh Hoe said that September is normally the peak season of tuna selling when importers often strengthen tuna buying, therefore, the goal of US$500 million of exports for the whole year is feasible.
Hoe said that among the top three markets of Vietnamese tuna, decrease was only seen in the US. Specifically, Vietnam shipped US$116.3 million worth of tuna to the US in the first seven months of 2018, down 8.9% year on year. Meanwhile, a rise of 23.7% was seen in the EU market to US$82.71 million, and a surge of 55.7% in the Israeli market to US$42.35 million, boosted by the shipment of canned tuna which almost doubled to US$29 million in the first half of the year.
Commenting on the Japanese market, Hoe said that Japan had dropped to the fifth position from one of the top two importers of Vietnamese tuna, explaining that Japan’s demand might decrease or it has found another source of supply at more reasonable prices. Vietnam had only 3% of the market share in Japan, while that of Thailand is 58%, Indonesia, 19%, and the Philippines, 17%.
However, Vietnam’s tuna exports to Japan have still increased through months, he said. In the first seven months of 2018, Japan spent US$15.87 million on Vietnamese tuna, up 25% year on year.
At the same time, tuna import of the US rose continuously in the first six months of 2018, with upturn seen in imports of canned processed tuna, and frozen tuna fillets.
Statistics from the US side showed that the country spent US$902 million on tuna products worth in the first half of 2018, up 17% compared to the same period in 2017.
The top five tuna suppliers of the US, counting by volume, were Thailand, China, Indonesia, Vietnam and Ecuador.
Notably, China and Vietnam have changed place to take the lead in supplying tuna to the US. Accounting for 70% of total canned tuna import of the US, China has become the second largest supplier of the US, making it a weighty competitor of Thailand and Vietnam.
Due to the escalating US-China trade war, in this September, the import tax rate for fresh and frozen tuna of China in the US will increase sharply, creating favourable conditions for other countries to increase their tuna export to the market. But the chance has yet to be clear for export of canned products.
Hoe asserted that higher demand of tuna in festive season at the end of the year will push importers’ buying. However, he was worried of the stability of supply capacity of Vietnam’s tuna sector, as along with domestically caught tuna, the country has still had to import the product as material for export.