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Vietnamese Profits Lie in Local Catfish

VIET NAM - Breeders and processors of basa and tra catfish are increasingly looking to the domestic market to raise profits, industry officials have said.

The fish, which is exported in large quantities, is especially popular in HCM City, the provinces in the Cuu Long (Mekong River) Delta and in the southeast, Tran Thi Thuyen, a catfish trader in An Giang Province's Chau Phu District, said.

According to Vietnam News, Nguyen Van De, owner of a catfish shop at the Binh Dien Market in HCM City, said that sales had reached 1,000 tonnes per day.

At the Phu Nhuan market in HCM City, sales of whole catfish are the most popular.

Since July the fish has been sold at fresh food stalls in indoor supermarkets. Sliced basa catfish is now selling for VND20.500 (US$1.2) per kilogramme.

Nguyen Ngoc Hoa, general director of the Sai Gon Co-op chain, said 50 kinds of catfish products were sold at his supermarkets.

A representative of Maximark supermarket said that purchases of frozen and processed foods had increased about 35 per cent against last month. Processed basa catfish products had made a significant contribution.

The An Giang Fisheries Import and Export (Agifish) is a pioneer in selling basa catfish products in the local market.

Agifish deputy general director Huynh Thi Thanh Nga said the company's distribution network comprised 200 agents responsible for supplying products to supermarkets, restaurants and school canteens nationwide.

The company's turnover from the local domestic market last year was VND90 billion ($5.4 million). It now stands at VND70 billion ($4.2 million) for the first half of this year, an increase of 53 per cent over the same period last year.

Catfish processing companies decided to upgrade their cold storage and reorganise their distribution networks to increase their sales in both urban and rural areas.