Indonesian pangasius exporters aim to compete with Vietnam in Middle East

Published on
August 1, 2019

Indonesia is increasingly viewing the Middle East as a lucrative potential market for the country's pangasius and is showing intentions of competing with Vietnam in this region, said Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP).

Indonesia has introduced its own brand of pangasius in the United Arab Emirates, considered a gateway to sales in the region, said VASEP.

The Indonesian Catfish Industry Association (APCI) in collaboration with the Indonesia Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (MMAF) and SMART-Fish Indonesia launched “Indonesian Pangasius: The Better Choice” branding at the SEAFEX 2018 exhibition in Dubai-UAE. The country also promoted “Indonesian Pangasius” at The Indonesian Expo 2018 and 2019 Hajj and Umrah Exhibition in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, APCI said in a statement on 27 May.

In May, Indonesia completed its first shipment of three containers of pangasius to Saudi Arabia.

Last year, pangasius production in Indonesia rose by 22.2 percent to 391,151 metric tons from 2017, said APCI.

Meanwhile, exports of pangasius from Vietnam to the Middle East have fallen mainly as a result of an import ban imposed by authorities in Saudi Arabia, according to VASEP. Vietnam exported pangasius worth USD 70.8 million (EUR 63.5 million) to Middle East in the first half of 2019, down 8.6 percent year-on-year.

The Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) in January last year suspended imports of fish, crustaceans, and other products of aquatic animal origin from Vietnam reportedly due to the presence of two diseases in the Southeast Asian nation.

Saudi Arabia also increased trade barriers against pangasius from Vietnam by extending its halal farming requirements to feed and fingerling production facilities, VASEP said, adding that Vietnam's pangasius exporters have complied with the new requirements and are awaiting Saudi Arabia's response in their request to lift the ban.

The U.A.E. became the biggest buyer of pangasius from Vietnam within the Middle East region in the first six months, but the export value Vietnam gained from this market declined 27.9 percent from last year. Sales to other regional markets also fell: Iran was down 57.7 percent year-on-year, Israel was 10.5 percent lower year-on-year, Jordan was down 10 percent, and Lebanon was down 10.9 percent, said VASEP.

The value of the exports to other markets between January and June, however, rose against last year, including Egypt with USD 18 million (EUR 16.2 million), up 4.63 percent; Bahrain USD 14.9 million (EUR 13.4 million), jumping 209.8 percent; and Qatar USD 2.26 million (EUR 2.03 million), up 109.8 percent.

Vietnam is the biggest exporter of pangasius in the world. The country’s pangasius export value hit an all-time high at USD 2.26 billion (EUR 2.03 billion) last year, soaring 26.5 percent from 2017.

Photo courtesy of Navico

Reporting from Hanoi, Vietnam

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