Image: FAO Globefish
Pangasius: Robust demand supported by increased harvests
Monday, March 27, 2023, 10:00 (GMT + 9)
Pangasius is enjoying increasing popularity across all market segments as consumers, retailers and processors seek out more affordable fish products. Viet Nam, the main global producer of pangasius, saw production rise by some 200 000 tonnes in 2022, which was able to support strong demand in major markets, particularly China. The relatively high pangasius prices that were seen at the beginning of 2022 have since rebalanced and remain significantly below other major whitefish species.
Image: Wiki / FIS
The Mekong Delta, the source of the vast majority of globally traded pangasius, saw a 14 percent increase in annual production in 2022. An additional 200 000 were brought onto the market, much of it destined for China. As stocking activities for 2023 harvest continue, input prices for farmers remain well above previous levels. Good quality fingerlings, in particular, are in short supply, with prices expected to rise in early 2023 as demand increases. Initial indicators for the 2023 season point towards a greater farming area along with further increases in production.
A number of drives have recently been announced to register and formalise pangasius producers in Viet Nam. In the Dong Thap region, which accounts for close to a third of the country’s harvests, the provincial government has set out a plan to bring production in half of commercial producers in line with Vietnamese Good Agricultural Practices, with the hopes that this will improve the quality of exports. Dong Thap’s 76 fish breeding centres are also crucial to the supply of fingerlings within the country; the new requirements being brought in stipulate that 75% of the pangasius fingerling must be classed as “high quality”. Pangasius remains a key element of Viet Nam’s agricultural development policy, with a particular focus on increasing trade revenue and improving the quality of exported fish.
Photo: Vasep / FIS -->
Chinese imports recovered from the second quarter of 2022, returning the country once again to its former position as the main destination for pangasius. Import testing and port delays had severely restricted trade in the last two years, and in the run-up to the 2022 lunar new year there were enormous backlogs of trucks waiting to be processed at the border between Viet Nam and China. The relaxation of Chinese import requirements has massively facilitated the movement of fresh and frozen food products, with Chinese processors and retailers alike enthusiastically building inventory. In the first 9 months of 2022 China imported 162 000 tonnes of pangasius fillets from Viet Nam, double the levels seen in the same period of 2021.
US imports of pangasius in the first 9 months of 2022 were the highest that they have been since 2016 at 104 600 tonnes, close to 15 percent higher than the same period of 2021. Pangasius is performing exceptionally well in the US retail and hospitality sector, where an increasing tendency among consumers to trade down on fish has favour its consumption.
<--Photos: Vasep / FIS
Farmgate prices in Viet Nam stood at 28 000 VND per kg (USD 1.20 per kg) in late 2022, 15 percent higher than in the same period of 2021. While production has increased substantially, high demand in major markets is keeping pressure on processors and maintaining high domestic prices.
Having peaked in early 2022, prices for pangasius fillets are returning to previous levels. Vietnamese export prices fell from USD 3.40 per kg in April 2022 to USD 2.75 per kg in December. Increasing exports to China, which are sold at lower prices than other markets, and lower prices in the United States of America were the main contributing factors.
Vietnamese inventories are currently low, with a predicted slump in supply in the early months of 2023 likely to restrict supply. Despite increased production, supplies are likely to remain tight following the lunar New Year period, at least until harvests pick back in late spring going into the summer. Prices for copetitng whitefish remain high, which will continue to fuel demand for pangasius among consumers adapting to the cost of living crisis.