Catfish exports have been unsatisfactory recently. Sales to China and the US have been decreasing since the beginning of the year.
Vietnam’s catfish farming prospered in 2017 and 2018 when catfish prices stayed at high levels. In 2018, the price in the Mekong Delta sometimes hit VND35,000-37,000 per kilogram, which brought fat profits to farmers.
While farmers have increased the cultivation area, which leads to output increase, exports this year are meeting difficulties, especially in the US and China.
The catfish price has decreased in the last six months in Mekong Delta, now hovering around VND18,000-19,000 per kilogram, or VND14,000-18,000 lower than 2018.
|According to VASEP, the US imported large amounts of catfish products in late 2018 and needed more time to sell the products in stock.|
In An Giang, Dong Thap and Can Tho, the prices continue to fall. Seafood processors now pay VND19,000 per kilogram, the lowest level in the last 10 years. With the price, farmers are incurring a loss of VND3,000-5,000 per kilogram.
According to Duong Nghia Quoc, chair of VPA, the catfish price is now VND5,000-6,000 per kilogram lower than the production cost, but farmers have still found it difficult to sell fish as processors have reduced collection.
He attributed this to the shrinking export market and the expanded aquaculture area, or oversupply.
The US-China trade war and technical barriers set by import countries are other reasons.
According to Quoc, local authorities need to calculate the cultivation area and output to figure out plans to support consumption.
He stressed the necessity to regain the two markets of the US and China. It is necessary to think of a credit policy which encourages enterprises to buy more fish from farmers in order to help ease farmers’ losses.
The owner of a catfish export company in Can Tho City confirmed oversupply because of the weak demand from the US and China.
However, he believes that the situation will be different in some months. Exports are expected to resume by that time as demand from the world market usually increases in the year-end season.
VASEP has informed China that it will exempt tax on Vietnam’s catfish exports to the country, and this will help boost exports.
In the EU, the Vietnamese catfish situation has improved following a media crisis. The price drop has increased demand.
According to VASEP, the US imported large amounts of catfish products in late 2018 and needed more time to sell the products in stock.
Involved parties are waiting for the final anti-dumping duties to be announced by the US Department of Commerce.
VASEP Secretary General Truong Dinh Hoe says that catfish exports to the EU bounced back in the first months of the year thanks to efforts by processors to improve the quality of products and settle media problems.
The catfish consumption level from the two biggest markets, China and the US, unexpectedly fell in Q1.