Pangasius Market Report - May
Vietnamese pangasius still in a bonanza phase...
exported 640 000 tonnes of pangasius in the 2008, at a value of USD 1.45
billion. Compared with 2007, Pangasius exports increased by 48% in value and
66% in quantity. The growth slowed down somewhat in the last quarter, as a
reaction to the worldwide economic downturn. In fact total 2008 exports
stayed somewhat below earlier forecasts.
Vietnamese growers are suffering from reduced prices,
pangasius is fetching around USD 0.92/ kilo in the Mekong Delta region, which
makes production uneconomic. As a reaction to low prices, farmers are
refraining from selling fish, and others are not restocking. More than 90% of
pangasius breeders reported losses in 2008, and between 40% and 50% of
growing ponds in the Mekong area are lying empty, which has led to forecasts
that production will be half what it was last year. This is very much in
contrast with the official forecast of further increase in production to
almost 1.5 million tonnes in 2009.
growers are suffering from reduced prices, pangasius
is fetching around USD 0.92/ kilo in the Mekong Delta region, which makes
production uneconomic. As a reaction to low prices, farmers are refraining
from selling fish, and others are not restocking. More than 90% of pangasius
breeders reported losses in 2008, and between 40% and 50% of growing ponds in
the Mekong area are lying empty, which has led to forecasts that production
will be half what it was last year. This is very much in contrast with the
official forecast of further increase in production to almost 1.5 million
tonnes in 2009.
Russia is now by far the
main market for pangasius from Viet Nam, with 118 000 tonnes. This
was more than double the 2007 amount. This country alone accounts for 18% of
the Vietnamese exports of pangasius. Imports into Russia expanded by 142% in volume
and by 200% in value. The unit value of Russian pangasius is extremely low,
at USD 1.40/kg, while the EU pays about USD 0.80/kg more for the pangasius it
is importing from Viet Nam.
The low unit value in Russia
can be explained by imports of lower grade products into Russia, as
fillets are mainly with belly, fat and red meat. The depreciation of the
Russian rouble against the USD and the EUR also contributed to lower unit
Ukraine is the second major
importer of pangasius from Viet
Nam, with 74 400 tonnes in 2008, more than
triple the 2007 amount. Ukraine
is paying somewhat more for its pangasius, at USD 1.95/kg. Even stronger
growth was recorded in Egypt,
where pangasius imports grew by over 300% in just one year. VASEP, the
Vietnamese seafood promotion agency, is concentrating on markets in the Middle East at the moment, successfully as can be noted
by this performance.
The EU is the main market for pangasius from Viet Nam, with about one third of
imports in quantity and 40% in value terms. Within the EU, Spain is the
biggest market, growing by 28%. Demand for pangasius from the European market
usually increases every year starting at the end of September; however, 2008
was a bit a difficult year.
Pangasius consumption has grown rapidly in Spain in the past few years. The
presence of pangasius, commonly called Panga, is
overwhelming; there is practically no fish shop in the country without panga fillets. The product is generally sold in fresh
form, but it is not always indicated that the product is defrosted. In
addition, in the indications on the origin, obligatory in EU traceability
law, the product is very often identified as wild caught product, sometime
even coming from the Atlantic. Prices at
retail level are extremely low at EUR 5.70/kg, the lowest priced fillet
available in the market. Import prices into Spain have declined over the
years, from some EUR 3.50/kg just two years ago to below EUR 2.00/kg at
present. Nile perch fillets are sold side by
side with panga in the main retail markets, but
this species is getting a EUR 2.00-3.00/kg premium over panga.
Spanish domestic fishermen are suffering from this tough competition, and
have complained to their government. Some lobbyists said that there were
cases of food poisoning related to pangasius imported from Viet Nam, The Spanish agency for Food Security
and Nutrition tested batches of catfish imported into Spain from Viet Nam in July 2008, these
tested negative for any toxic substances banned by the EC. In January 2009, Spainís Ministry of Health and Consumer Affairs
confirmed Vietnamese catfish met food safety regulations set by the EU and
posed no danger to consumer health.
Imports of pangasius are up 62% in Germany in 2008 compared to 2007.
Added value id being given to the species by German companies, including an
organic range as well as the introduction of some high-end smoked products. In
October 2008, a
consumer journal article found several problems concerning quality and
residues, with pangasius products in German supermarkets. Imports of
pangasius slowed down in the closing months of the year, probably to the
overall economic crisis and perhaps also to the quality concerns. However, it
is likely that consumption of pangasius will increase again in the future, as
the price conscious German market will turn to cheaper fish products as the
recession continues to bite.
tried to open up other EU market, especially in the Eastern part of the
union. However, a sharp drop in unit values was experienced in most markets. In
Romania the unit value
fell from EUR 2.12/kg to EUR 1.24/kg, in Slovenia from EUR 2.22/kg to
1.57/kg. Again the currency depreciation in these countries was the main
reason for this decline.
The US catfish
market is growing quite impressively. In 2008, some 44 200 tonnes were
imported, 27% more than in the same period of last year. Viet Nam accounts more than half of this
quantity, while China
reported a strong increase in its catfish supplies to the US market,
after tough controls enforced last year. At present China
accounts for about 27% of total US catfish imports.
Record forecast for 2009 unlikely to be met
is aiming to produce some 1.5 million tonnes of pangasius in 2009. However,
producers are feeling the difficult economic environment and have asked the
government to take measures to ensure credit supply for catfish producers and
processors. In addition, the low prices prevailing in the second half of 2008
prompted farmers not to restock their ponds. Therefore the production goal
Viet Nam will continue to
look for alternative markets for its products, probably moving more high
quality pangasius into the EU and into the US market, while Eastern European
countries will receive products with more glazing, but at competitive price
Demand for pangasius should be good in these times of economic crisis, where
consumers are looking for inexpensive products. Pangasius is likely to be the
ideal products in the US
and the Western European market for a more careful customer. In the Eastern
part of the continent, the market is expected to be less interesting, as the
prevailing price levels are not attractive for Vietnamese producers.