Latin America and Asia remain pangasius growth drivers


The report analyses the market situation until September 2017

World imports of pangasius are estimated to have reached approximately 420 000 tonnes in the first nine months of 2017, a 14 percent increase from the same period in 2015. Overall there was a marginal decline (-0.2 percent) from 2016, but a significant drop in imports (-10 percent) into the United States of America, the single largest market. Latin America and Asia account for close to 50 percent of the global imports. Shortage in supplies pushed prices to a ten-year high in the first quarter of 2017 and it remained firm since.

Viet Nam

Vietnamese exports of pangasius faced difficulties in the US and European markets, but overall exports during the first nine months of 2017 reached USD 1.3 billion, 5.8 percent more than during the same period in 2016. VASEP announced that exports to the United States of America were worth USD 258.3 million during the review period (-9.9 percent). Exports to Europe fell in August (-8.4 percent) and September (-23.7 percent) in comparison with the same period in 2016.

Meanwhile, exports to other markets are growing, offsetting the decline in EU28 and in the United States of America. In the first three quarters of 2017, pangasius exports from Viet Nam to China and Hong Kong SAR were worth more than USD 288 million, an increase of 42 percent year-on-year.

During the review period, Vietnamese pangasius exports to Saudi Arabia reached USD 40.48 million (+4 percent). In 2017, Saudi Arabia became the top 4 "alternative importing market" of Viet Nam. In 2016, Saudi Arabian imports of pangasius accounted for the largest share in total whitefish imports. Viet Nam was the main supplier of pangasius to Saudi Arabia with 43 percent of total imports into the country, followed by Myanmar, Egypt, Taiwan Province of China, Bangladesh and Thailand. In 2016, the Saudi Arabian import price of pangasius ranged from USD 1.45–1.5 per kg. This price is forecast to have increased by 5-10 percent at the end of 2017, with an export price of USD 1.5-1.75 per kg.

Industry sources revealed that there is an overall shortage in supplies of pangasius since some farmers abandoned their farms after facing continuous losses. This shortage is expected to continue as current high prices firm.

United States of America

In the first nine months of 2017, total US frozen catfish imports decreased by 9.9 percent compared to the same period in 2016, in line with the drop in frozen pangasius fillet imports from its leading supplier, Viet Nam. More whole pangasius was imported from Viet Nam. Frozen Channel catfish (Ictalurus sp) fillet continues a positive a trend following a decline during the previous reporting period with China as the leading and only source.

European Union (Member Organization)

The EU28 demand continued to weaken during the first nine months of 2017, with imports (whole and frozen) adding to 61 600 tonnes, 15 percent less than in the same time period in 2016. Imports declined significantly into the largest markets within the EU28, Spain and the United Kingdom. Frozen fillet imports took the largest share, but whole frozen pangasius imports sourced in Viet Nam and Indonesia registered an impressive increase of 7.4 percent during the review period.

Pangasius imports, which are mostly coming from Viet Nam, to Spain fell by 62 percent to around 6 650 tonnes, during the review period. According to Nielsen, sales dropped by 50 percent between 1 August 2016 and 31 July 2017. This was particularly drastic in April and May, when Spain imported 500 tonnes compared to the average monthly imports in recent years of almost 2 000 tonnes.


During January–September 2017, approximately 95 000 tonnes of frozen pangasius were imported into Asia, 23 percent more than in the same period in 2016. China has emerged as the largest importer in Asia, overtaking Thailand and posting 43 percent growth in imports during the review period. In total, China imported 34 400 tonnes of pangasius product during this period, 65 percent more than a year ago. Thailand was close behind, importing a total of 19 200 tonnes. Tilapia farmers in China are reported to be switching to pangasius due to the growing domestic demand driven primarily by the lower prices compared to tilapia.

Latin America

Latin America imported over 100 000 tonnes of frozen pangasius during the first nine months of 2017, an increase of 12.3 percent from 2016. The continent is the largest importer, comprising approximately 26 percent of the global imports of pangasius. Within the region, Brazil and Mexico are the largest importers.

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