The Hanoitimes - The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) has approved in principle for the building of a center specialized in providing high-quality breeds for tra fish and some other freshwater fish aquaculture in the Mekong Delta region.
Accordingly, two southern provinces of Dong Thap and An Giang will co-operate to set up the center.
Vu Van Tam, MARD’s deputy minister, said that quality of breeds is very important to meet technical barriers set by importing markets and boost up the sustainable development of tra fish industry.
Despite being Vietnam’s largest tra fish aquaculture area, the Mekong Delta region has no such kind of center, he said.
Export markets diversified
Vietnam currently exports tra fish to more than 100 countries and territories worldwide. Major markets for tra fish are the US, China, the EU and ASEAN.
However, tra fish export to the US dropped sharply this year because of the US’s catfish (tra fish) inspection program from August 2017 and higher anti-dumping duties imposed on the Vietnamese product. Vietnam’s tra fish exports to the US reduced by up to 54.8 percent year-on-year to US$18.44 million in the first eight months this year.
Many Vietnamese exporters are seeking new markets for tra fish to offset the reduction.
Song Tien Seafood JSC and Ngoc Xuan Seafood JSC in the southern province of Tien Giang are seeking ways to export their products to non-US markets, including the EU, China and Middle East.
Nguyen Thi Anh, the head of both businesses mentioned above, said her companies this year accessed a number of new markets, such as the Middle East, South America and China.
“As for the EU market, it has been still the strategic market of businesses for many years, accounting for about 60 – 70 per cent of the total exports,” said Anh. “To keep the stable volume of customers in this market, the company has focused on investment, ensuring product quality from raw materials to processing.”
Therefore, although the company does not export tra fish to the US, its export turnover is stable and growing, Anh added.
Vinh Hoan—one of the three leading Vietnamese companies exporting tra fish to the US—are also focusing on exploiting newly-emerged markets.
Nguyen Ngo Vi Tam, General Director of Vinh Hoan Corporation, said the company had recently developed new markets. It is especially focusing on value-added products.
Tam said the company had installed a production line of grilled tra fish products marinated in teriyaki, a Japanese cooking technique, for export to Japan. After years of development efforts, Japanese consumers have started accepting freshwater fish products.
“If businesses focus on product quality control, this will be a potential market for Viet Nam’s tra industry in Asia, just after China,” said Tam.
Honorary President of VASEP Nguyen Thi Hong Minh said there were still many opportunities to develop the tra fish industry and change the worldview of Vietnamese tra fish. First of all, she said, Vietnam needs a national-level tra fish product.
Minh proposed to make a line of tra fish fillet products that would be based on a common standard system. Meanwhile, the processing enterprises and exporters would jointly develop markets and branding.
"The main product must be fillet because it accounts for 80 per cent of Vietnam’s export of tra fish. In addition, relevant agencies must also support the development of this product line, which needs to have logos and a brand name as well,” she said.