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VN targets tra fish supply chain to supply EU market

Update: August, 08/2014 - 08:33
Vietnamese's Pangasius or tra fish has been exported to 150 countries and territories with total revenue of more than US$1.8 billion a year, of which the EU accounts for 21 per cent of the total export value.

by Xuan Hiep

HCM CITY (VNS) — Viet Nam plans to develop a sustainable Pangasius supply chain to increase its exports to the EU, its leading export market, heard a conference held in HCM on Wednesday.

Truong Dinh Hoe, general secretary of the Viet Nam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), said that Pangasius or tra fish has been exported to 150 countries and territories with total revenue of more than US$1.8 billion a year, of which the EU accounts for 21 per cent of the total export value.

The EU continues to be Viet Nam's largest export market for Pangasius. However, exports of tra fish to the EU decreased by 19 per cent in 2012 compared to 2011.

Exports in 2013 decreased by 9 per cent compared to 2012, and by the same amount in the first six months of this year compared to the same period last year, according to VASEP. Spain, Germany and the Netherlands are main importers, but their imports fell by 14,300 tonnes on average during the last three years, Hoe added.

According to VASEP, the drop in export value to the EU is mainly attributed to the EU's economic slump in recent years, leading to lower consumption. Competitions from other white fish also decreased sales.

Duong Phuong Thao, deputy chief of the Import-Export Management Bureau under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, said the product has to cope with reports in Italy, Germany, Spain and Egypt that have unfairly criticised the quality of the Vietnamese export.

Thao listed a number of challenges facing the industry, such as a weak financial capacity and outdated processing technology.

"The EU is a large market for white fish, but a lot of orders from the EU were missing due to a small production scale, financial constraints and low labour productivity of Vietnamese enterprises," she told Viet Nam News.

"The processing technology in Viet Nam is old-fashioned. Exported Pangasius to the EU are mainly raw and semi-processed products," she added.

The market integration of Vietnamese businesses is mainly dependent on EU partners, Thao said, adding that there was also a weak inexperienced distribution network.

She recommended that Viet Nam enhance communication activities and promote the image of Vietnamese Pangasius in the EU, and link enterprises and associations in organising distribution activities in the EU. She also proposed that Viet Nam define the export price for Pangasius via public auctions with buyers, and try to build a national brand for the product.

Thao said exporters should not reduce quality in order to sell at lower prices, and that transactions be made through trading floors, and done transparently.

In addition, businesses should improve standards related to accounting, labour, and environmental responsibility, and focus on quality control, manufacturing management and regulations on origin of products. She suggested that the State Bank of Viet Nam urge commercial banks to provide loans for agriculture and aquaculture processors and exporters.

Opportunities abound

Viet Nam still has many opportunities to export Pangasius and expand its market share in the EU market, according to Hoe, secretary general of VASEP.

Pangasius has become a popular white fish in the EU market. It is favoured by consumers because it is nutritious and delicious. It is also easy to cook and sells at reasonable prices. According to figures from VASEP, 65 per cent of EU seafood is imported.

The EU's population is expected to be 522.3 million in 2030 and average seafood consumption in the EU will rise from 22 to 24 kilo per person per year. The EU retail market includes 25 of the world's leading retailers, Hoe said.

Pangasius production and processing in Viet Nam now has a high commitment to international standards, food safety and environmental and social responsibility.

In addition, VietGAP is being widely applied in Pangasius farming in Viet Nam with regulations on sustainable development equivalent to standards of GlobalGAP. These will be compulsory by 2016.

The Decree 36/2014/ND-CP of the Government on raising, processing and exporting Pangasius is the foundation for improving quality of Pangasius filets, he said.

Speaking at the conference, Pham Anh Tuan, deputy general director of Fishery Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the Government had paid special attention to develop the image of Vietnamese Pangasius. It has developed a master plan for production and processing, and has invested in research and technology and infrastructure such as fish stock centres and quality management centres.

Le Xuan Thinh of the Viet Nam Cleaner Production Centre (VNCPC) said that a new two-year project on a sustainable Pangasius supply chain in Viet Nam will be implemented in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta.

Thinh said that the VNCPC in cooperation with WWF Austria, WWF Viet Nam and VASEP is helping the Pangasius industry to implement social, environmental, food safety and economic responsibility along the entire supply chain. The project's objective is that by 2017, at least 70 per cent of the targeted production and processing enterprises, and 30 per cent of the feed producers, hatcheries and small independent production businesses are actively engaged in Cleaner Production. — VNS

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