VietNamNet Bridge – Vietnam is facing a high risk of losing export markets to emerging rivals in Asia who are planning to join the world market.
Le Thanh Thuan, chair of Sao Mai Seafood Group, warned that tough rivals in the future could threaten the country’s role as the largest catfish exporter if Vietnam does not create an effective catfish development strategy.
Vietnamese exporters are now scrambling for customers by lowering export prices. Local companies suffer from unhealthy competition, Thuan said.
Vietnam, together with Thailand, Cambodia and Laos, is one of four big catfish producers in the lower Mekong River.
However, the current situation may change in the near future as other South East Asian countries including the Philippines and Indonesia have begun stepping up their catfish production.
Indonesian agencies have said that the Batanghari river in Jambi, with its favorable conditions, could help generate one of the largest catfish farms in the country, and that Indonesia could surpass Vietnam in the future to become the largest catfish exporter.
Meanwhile, the Philippines’ Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has assigned the Regional Operations and Development Group (RODG) the task of implementing the national program on developing the catfish industry, capitalized at 650 million pesos, or $15.8 million.
The country hopes to obtain turnover of 945 million from the industry by 2016.
The Philippines began consuming Vietnam’s catfish in 2008, importing 600 tons a year, worth $1.65 million.
However, it is trying to gradually reduce imports from Vietnam before it stops imports and begins exporting catfish to the world market.
An international source said DTI has developed six projects on eco-catfish and feed production, while managing 48 projects on expanding the catfish industry in many localities in the country.
Jamaica, which believes that catfish can “lay golden eggs”, has begun developing catfish farming. Puerto Rico is also considering developing the industry.
“Catfish will no longer be an exclusive product of Vietnam,” said Duong Ngoc Minh, general director of Hung Vuong Seafood JSC.
He went on to say that Thailand, which has been very successful in aquaculture and seafood exports and now plans to focus on developing catfish products, and India, which can put out 500,000 tons of catfish every year, would also be strong rivals for Vietnam.
Truong Thi Le Khanh, chair and CEO of Vinh Hoan Seafood JSC, said that Vietnam’s catfish is better than the fish bred in other countries like Indonesia and Bangladesh. Thanks to good water sources, Vietnam’s catfish has white meat, while the catfish in Indonesia has red meat.