Shifting pangasius market has Vietnam's industry hopeful for recovery

A Vietnamese fish farmer holding up a pangasius on a farm in the Mekong Delta
A pangasius farm in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam | Photo courtesy of Son Truong/Shutterstock
6 Min

In May 2024, Vietnam recorded its highest monthly pangasius export volumes in two years, mainly thanks to rising demand from China. 

But rapidly rising freight rates and low prices are offsetting some of those gains, according to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP).

Vietnam shipped more than 83,000 metric tons (MT) of pangasius to global markets in May, a 46 percent rise year over year and an 8 percent increase over April 2024. It was the biggest monthly total since May 2022 and marked the third consecutive month of pangasius export volume growth in the country.

Vietnamese pangasius exports to China, including Hong Kong, surged 20 percent year over year in May to more than 29,000 MT, the largest total since February 2023. The Chinese market become more reliable in recent months, with growing demand and stable prices for lower-value whitefish species, which VASEP said should continue to boost Vietnam’s pangasius export volumes in the back half of the year.

Pangasius remains cheaper than domestically farmed freshwater fish, such as carp, in many Chinese retail stores. With the weakening of the Chinese economy forcing consumers to tighten their spending, pangasius is becoming increasingly popular and gaining a strong foothold in the market, VASEP said.

However, although export volumes increased significantly, the value of pangasius exports to China only edged up 0.4 percent year over year in May, reaching USD 50.3 million (EUR 46.4 million). In the first five months of 2024, sales to China dropped 13 percent year over year to USD 203 million (EUR 187.5 million), mainly due to a drop in export prices.

This drop in export prices for pangasius played out across several markets. 

By the end of May, the average price of Vietnamese pangasius exported to China dropped 1 percent month over month to USD 1.88 (EUR 1.74) per kilogram, rates to Mexico fell by 7.4 percent to USD 2.13 (EUR 1.97) per kilogram, export prices to the E.U. dropped by 5 percent to USD 2.43 (EUR 2.24) per kilogram, prices to the U.K. decreased 7.2 percent to USD 2.43 (EUR 2.24) per kilogram, and prices to Brazil declined by 1.5 percent to USD 2.69 (EUR 2.48) per kilogram.

In contrast, the average price of pangasius exported to the U.S. increased by 1.7 percent month over month to USD 2.95 (EUR 2.72) per kilogram.

Though the U.S. spike represented a bright spot, Siam Canadian Vietnam Sales Manager Le Thuy Trang said she believes May might have represented a peak for the year, citing the falling export prices, high freight rates, and low farmgate prices as reasons why sales may continue to slow as the year rolls on.

VASEP data backs up that claim, showing that ... 

SeafoodSource Premium

Become a Premium member to unlock the rest of this article.

Continue reading ›

Already a member? Log in ›


Want seafood news sent to your inbox?

You may unsubscribe from our mailing list at any time. Diversified Communications | 121 Free Street, Portland, ME 04101 | +1 207-842-5500
Primary Featured Article