Pangasius Market Report - February 2009
Vietnamese pangasius still in a bonanza phase...
exported nearly 550 000 tonnes of tra and basa pangasius (commonly called
pangasius) in the first ten months of 2008, for a
value of USD 1.24 billion. Pangasius exports
increased by 53% in value and 75% in quantity over the same period of 2007. At
these rates, pangasius recorded the highest growth
rate of any aquaculture product exported by Viet Nam. The country is earning
average revenue of USD 150 million from pangasius
exports a month and total 2008 exports are expected to be USD 1.5 billion.
These forecasts should be reasonable, as new markets such as Russia, the
Middle East and some Asian countries have demonstrated a growing demand for pangasius imported from Viet Nam. Russia is by far the
main importing country of pangasius from Viet Nam,
representing alone some 20% of total exports. This country reported a 191%
growth in imports of pangasius from Viet Nam in the
first ten months of 2008. Ukraine is second major outlet for Vietnamese pangasius, with 13% of total imports. Ukraine imports of pangasius grew even stronger than the ones of Russia:
from 20 000 tonnes in Jan-Oct 2007 to 70 000 tonnes in Jan-Oct 2008. Egypt
also expanded as one of the main outlets for this commodity.
The EU is the main common market for pangasius from
Viet Nam, with about one third of imports in both quantity and value terms. Spain
is the biggest market, growing by 8%. Demand for pangasius
from the European market usually increases every year starting at the end of
... but there are some clouds on the bright sky
Despite this phenomenal growth rates, there is also some critics to be heard.
On the one hand, the Vietnamese industry suffers from missing storage space. At
present, Vietnamese traders have to sell at whatever price, so they are
unable to wait for higher prices. In order to increase the present coldstorage capacity to some 10 000 tonnes, 1.1-1.5
million EUR would be needed, difficult to mobilize in the present difficult
financial situation. In addition to upgrading infrastructure, aquaculture
companies have invested in widening their material areas. They signed
contracts with local farmers to supply them with food and breeding fish to
guarantee their supply.
Price cuts are to the expense of quality. Huge price competition result in an
overuse of glazing and additives. This will result in declining quality and
in the long in consumer dissatisfaction. As for all other major seafood
items, importers will start to control more the quality offered, and
establish good working relationships with trustworthy companies in Viet Nam. There
will a shake out of the industry in the coming year.
The Vietnamese government animates pangasius
producers to agree upon a floor price to avoid unfair competition, while
ensuring hygienic practices. Recently, many aquaculture processing companies
in the Cuu Long Delta have invested in upgrading
their infrastructure and expanding their production.
Imports of pangasius are up 90% into Germany in the
first six months of 2008 compared to 2007. The species is being used in more
ways by German companies, including the organic range as well as introducing
some high-end smoked products. In October 2008, a consumer journal
enquiry found several problems with pangasius
products in German supermarkets. The impact of this study on German pangasius consumption has still to be seen.
The US catfish market is growing quite impressively. In the first nine months
of 2008, some 37 000 tonnes were imported, 25% more than in the same period
of last year. Viet Nam accounts for about half of this quantity, while China
reported strong increase in its catfish supplies to the US market, after the
tough controls enforced last year. At present China accounts for about 27% of
total US catfish imports.
2009 year of change
Vietnamese pangasius producers have to improve
their quality and their business practices, in order to maintain their
markets in Europe. Overall, 2009 will be an important year for the industry,
moving from a booming industry into a more mature phase. The occasional
quality problems, as the ones listed by the German journal will lead to more
consumer resistance. The low price alone will not be able to maintain the EU