VASEP Discusses Global Tra Value Drop


Linda Salim, for SeafoodSource from Surabaya, Indonesia

Published on
August 17, 2008

While European pangasius importers blamed low quality for a price drop in the global market, the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) believes exporters contribute to the drop by accepting ridiculously low bids, the lowest being exported to Ukraine at $1.09 a kilogram.

Since the year started, Vietnamese tra prices have dropped 8.59 percent. VASEP reported 20.58 percent drops in the Middle East, 10.95 percent in Asia, 10.8 percent in Eastern Europe, 8.62 percent in South America, 7.01 percent in Europe and 2.8 percent in Africa.

Compared with prices of other fish that have increased due to inflation, it doesn't make sense that tra should decrease in price, according to VASEP. The reduced prices received hostile reactions from the European fish industry. The Spanish Shipowners Association launched a campaign to boycott Vietnamese pangasius while Polish and French unions also reacted negatively.

VASEP mentioned that the pangasius industry needed to be reorganized. Currently, the top five exporters earn a total of $241 million while the bottom five totals $17,785, with the smallest exporter bringing home a mere $28 for 264.5 pounds.

Out of a total of 168 exporters, only 57 are processors while the rest are traders. Processors control 93 percent of the export market, earning revenues of $563 million for 245,000 metric tons of production.

VASEP chairman Tran Thien Hai suggested that the 30 largest processors, which account for a market share of 68 percent, are in charge of escalating prices. Luong Le Phuong, deputy minister of agriculture and rural development, gave similar advice.

While VASEP tries to stabilize global pangasius prices, Vietnam's domestic industry is looking to keep more product for local consumption. Pangasius has penetrated local markets since An Giang Fisheries Import and Export (Agifish) put its 200 distributors to work, supplying pangasius to retailers, restaurants and school cafeterias.

Last year, Agifish domestic sales reached $5.4 million while the first half of this year fetched $4.2 million, doubling from the same period last year.

Nguyen Van De, shop owner in Ho Chi Minh's Binh Dien Market, reported that daily sales could reach 1,000 tons, selling $1.20 per kilogram for sliced basa.

Maximark groceries credited processed basa for a 35 percent increase in frozen and processed food sales last month.

Catfish processors across the country, hoping to cash in before the trend passes, catch on by upgrading their storage facilities and expanding distribution networks in urban and rural areas.

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