Problems for Vietnamese pangasius producers


In 2015, Asia and Latin America remained the lucrative markets for pangasius while the leading producer, Viet Nam, continued to be plagued by production problems. Overall, lower prices did not encourage imports into the major markets, the USA and the EU, whereas growth did occur in Asia and Latin America. In Asia, imports increased only to selected markets although prices were higher in 2015 compared with 2014.

Viet Nam

According to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), the value of Vietn Nam's tra catfish is expected to continue to fall this in 2016.

Officials anticipate that the value of the tra fish export will see a year-on-year drop of 5% to USD 1.5 billion in 2016. According to VASEP, in 2015, the total value of tra fish exports reached USD 1.6 billion, which was 10% lower than the value in 2014. Meanwhile, the year-on-year value of tra fish exports rose in new markets; by 17% to the UK, 42% to mainland China and Hong Kong SAR, and 2.4% to Saudi Arabia in 2015.

However, 2015 was a difficult year for Vietnamese exports of tra fish products in most large markets. Challenges included lower demand, stagnant selling prices as well as increasingly stricter standards on quality, food hygiene and safety. Of particular concern to the industry has been the recent US preliminary result of its anti-dumping administrative review (POR-11) on Vietnamese tra fish fillets.

Current raw material prices are reported to have risen and on 15 March 2016 were quoted at VND 21 500 per kg compared with VND 20.500 per kg, the price quoted a week prior. This price increase is due to a shortage in supply from the Mekong Delta Province. Industry sources reported that the shortage will peak during April to August 2016 when exports are usually high. This is expected to put further upward pressure on prices.


For 2015, total frozen catfish imports into the USA grew by nearly 8% compared with 2014, with the majority of the supplies coming from Viet Nam as usual. Imports of frozen pangasius fillets, which makes up 95% of total frozen volumes (107 626 tonnes) increased by nearly 11% compared with 2014. Myanmar exports, though acute, did grow, from 17 tonnes of frozen pangasius fillets in 2014 to 67 tonnes in 2015. 


The market for pangasius in the EU remained weak in 2015 as import volumes of frozen pangasius (whole and fillets) declined nearly 14% from 2014, with the fall largely from the major supplier of Viet Nam. Spain retained its position as the largest market within the EU, although it imported less in 2015 compared with the previous year.

Interestingly, the EU market continues to demonstrate growth in the whole frozen category. Imports of whole frozen pangasius into the EU increased at a steady pace with 155 tonnes more imported in 2015 reaching 3 399 tonnes. Almost all suppliers are from Asia with Viet Nam in the lead followed by Indonesia, Thailand, Bangladesh and Myanmar.

Average import prices of frozen fillets into the EU strengthened slightly to reach USD 2.46 per kg compared with USD 2.39 per kg in 2014. In contrast, average import prices of whole frozen pangasius were down at USD 1.99 per kg in 2015 from USD 2.09 per kg in 2014.


In 2015, Asia imported approximately 81 000 tonnes of pangasius (whole and fillets) according to national statistics, roughly 21% more than in 2014. Among the major markets in Asia were Thailand, China, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan Province of China, Hong Kong SAR, India, Japan and the Republic of Korea. Thailand was the largest market and imported nearly 25% more in 2015, reaching a total of 20 617 tonnes. China, the second largest Asian market for the product, is growing as well. Indeed, imports grew significantly by 88% to reach almost 17 000 tonnes in 2015.

In general, average import prices were lower in most of Asia, though they were higher in China (USD 2.38 per kg, +1.4%), Hong Kong SAR (USD 2.06 per kg +6.7%) and Taiwan Province of China (USD 1.45 per kg, +19.4%).

Latin America

For 2015, Latin America continued to be one of the most lucrative regions for Viet Nam pangasius exporters. According to national statistics, Latin American markets imported more than a total of 120 000 tonnes of pangasius (whole and fillets) in 2015. Frozen fillets comprised nearly 91% of these imports. Mexico was the largest market within the region, followed by Brazil and Colombia although supplies declined to the latter markets. Average import prices on the whole declined by an estimated 6-10% in 2015 from the year before, which encouraged imports into the region.


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