Pangasius production is back into full swing, according to Helga Josupeit in the latest issue of FAO Globefish.

Viet Nam exported 334,000 tonnes of catfish in the first eight months of 2009, worth an estimated US$ 737 million. This made the sector the top foreign currency earner among seafood exporters.

Exports of catfish have shown signs of recovery in many markets, except in Russia where the media reported that Viet Nam did not ensure the quality of the product. However, Russian agreed to import 10,000 tonnes of catfish a month from September 2009 onwards, which should give a boost to total exports. Viet Nam is thus expected to export US$ 1.4 billion-worth of catfish this year.

Catfish exports have recovered as a result of economic improvements in key markets and because of the Vietnamese seafood sector has put a lot of effort in seeking new markets. Land set aside for catfish farms in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta region has reached 5,154 hectares, a 15 per cent increase compared with last year.

Imports of frozen catfish into the US
(January to June; '000 tonnes)
  2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Viet Nam 3.6 3.4 7.3 12.5 16.4
China 0.8 1.9 7.8 9.2 4.3
Thailand 0.0 1.5 2.9 3.5 3.5
Malaysia 0.0 1.4 0.5 0.5 0.1
Indonesia 0.0 0.0 0.4 0.2 0.2
Others 0.7 0.6 0.3 0.7 0.9
TOTAL 5.1 8.7 19.1 26.8 25.4

Farmers in the region have harvested 457,000 tonnes of catfish in the first eight months of this year, an increase of 13.5 per cent. At present, Viet Nam has 110 plants producing 4.3 million tonnes of fish feed a year, including 88 plants producing feed for tra and basa catfish. In view of the good production, processing companies have reduced the price of catfish to 13,500 to 15,500 dong (VND) per kilo ($0.75 to 0.87 per kilo). The drop was attributed to large stocks of the fish plus a reduction in fish prices in some markets. In the EU, prices fell from $2.63 to $2.47 per kilo.

Catfish prices in Spain (€ per kilo)

Outlook Unsettled

It seems the same situation as last year: plenty of production and declining prices, which in the long run will lead to fewer fish being produced in Viet Nam. On the other hand, demand is picking up again in Europe, where pangasius is a well accepted fish. The present low prices should help further penetration of the Eastern European markets.

September 2009

the Fish Site Editor

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