|The competitiveness of Vietnamese exporters is still weak due to a lack of long-term marketing strategy.—File Photo
by Xuan Hiep
HCM CITY (VNS)— A visiting top Australian importer of seafood on Tuesday appreciated Vietnamese seafood's high quality, saying it conformed to Australia's food and safety standards.
"We have no problem with the food and safety standards of seafood imported from Viet Nam," Norman Grant, executive chairman of the Seafood Importers Association of Australia, said.
He was attending the Viet Nam Fisheries International Exhibition (VIETFISH) that began in HCM City on Tuesday.
"Developing a market is the issue," he emphasised at the press conference held alongside the expo.
Grant and other Australian businesspeople and media are here on a five-day visit to assess the local fishery industry and attend the VIETFISH expo.
"We should do two things: correct the consumer perception about Vietnamese seafood and invest more money for promotions," he said.
"What we are going to do is to develop a quality standard for seafood imports from Viet Nam," he stressed.
Grant said that Viet Nam's tra fish had had a bad reputation for safety and hygiene standards in Australia.
"This trip will help us make report of and publicise information about seafood imports from Viet Nam," he told Viet Nam News.
"Vietnamese seafood producers and exporters paid attention to the quality of products and neglected communicating... with their customers about the products," a Vietnamese seafood official said at the event.
Nguyen Huu Dung, vice-president of the Viet Nam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), said:
"Exporters should improve their marketing and communication skills to promote their products and the seafood industry to buyers worldwide."
Doan Xuan Hoa of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, who also spoke at the conference, has urged the seafood association and its members to promote the industry not only in Australia but also in other markets.
Australia is a high-potential import market that imports 70 per cent of its seafood each year.
Every year, Australia imports about 200,000 tonnes of seafood, from which Viet Nam accounts for one-fourth of the turnover, figures from VASEP show.
According to Australia's Bureau of Statistics, in 2010-11 Viet Nam was among the top 10 leading countries exporting food and beverages to Australia, with export revenue of about US$289.74 million.
Viet Nam's major export to Australia is shrimp, accounting for nearly 60 per cent of total seafood turnover, followed by pangasius fish (26.2 per cent) and mollusks (3.4 per cent).
Tiger shrimp is still the most favoured Vietnamese seafood item in Australia.
Exports of tiger shrimp to Australia have reached $17 million in the first four months of this year, accounting for 65 per cent of the total shrimp export value. About 80 per cent of shrimp exports are processed products.
In the first four months, shrimp exports reached $26 million, according to VASEP.
Currently, Australia is the fifth-largest seafood import market for Viet Nam's fishery industry.
Last year, Viet Nam seafood export value to Australia rose by 11.69 per cent over 2011, according to VASEP.
For the last four years, Viet Nam has been the leading supplier of processed shrimp to Australia, according to the International Trade Centre.
Last year, processed shrimp exports to Australia were worth more than $77 million. More than 140 seafood companies are exporting to Australia.
VASEP said that the legal framework between the two countries was favourable for promoting trade relations between the two nations.
In addition, the Free Trade Agreement between ASEAN, Australia and New Zealand came into effect in 2010, which has also furthered trade.
Australia is a demanding import market, especially in safety and hygiene standards as well as packaging.
In order to maintain and develop market share, Viet Nam must pay more attention to ensuring product quality, speakers at the conference said.
The competitiveness of Vietnamese exporters is still weak due to a lack of long-term marketing strategy.
Distorted information in the foreign media about Vietnamese pangasius and shrimp has acted as a barrier for Vietnamese exporters, according to VASEP.
VASEP said the country should take serious measures to promote seafood exports.— VNS