Aquaculture for all

Panga producers hit hard

Breeding & genetics Economics +2 more

It's not shaping up to be a very good year for Vietnamese pangasius producers, as harsh weather and increased import tariffs strengthen finished goods, according to this weeks Tradex Foods 3-Minute Market Insight.

Pangasius pricing and demand is strong in the domestic Chinese market, primarily due to short supply in Vietnam.

Heavier than normal rainfall and colder weather has caused production to drop 30 to 40 percent from last year this time. Since last summer, Vietnamese farmers have experienced high mortalities of the young fish fry – up to 35 percent of their livestock have been dying since July.

The pangasius market has been growing steadily for a few years in China, mostly to supermarkets and restaurants. The most popular item is butterflied pangasius – one of the biggest suppliers in Vietnam recently sold out of this item in 2 weeks, even with prices up 20 per cent on a 20kg case.

In North America, where the fish is known as Swai, imports from Vietnam could be suspended as of September 1st after federal regulation and inspection will transition from the FDA to the USDA.

One Vietnamese processor we spoke to would face a 69 cent tariff for imports of raw frozen unbreaded fillets, which would bring West Coast prices from $1.52 to $2.22 / lb, placing the finished goods well out of market.

Vendors who do not get USDA approval could suspend exports to the USA, focusing instead on domestic business or Canada.

Swai was heavily discussed at Seafood Expo North America last week in Boston, as many believed domestic Catfish production could replace imported swai products. However, at a price tag of $4.55 for 3-5oz fillets from the Southern USA, imported swai will remain below domestic catfish even with the new tariffs.

We have seen substitute demand strengthen for pollock fillets as a inexpensive whitefish alternative, particularly on smaller fillet sizes.

East coast prices for pollock are between $1.23 and $1.25 per pound on 2-4oz IQF pollock fillets, an attractive price as swai pricing could rise a further 10 cents to between $1.70 and $1.75 by mid-April.

Stay tuned for another update on the pangasius/swai market in the coming weeks.