Despite huge challenges, the seafood sector in 2022 posted a new record in export value of US$11 billion, up 24 percent year-on-year and 22 percent higher than the year’s target of US$9 billion.
Le Hang, communications director of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), said that this was the highest export value in more than 20 years.
Of the amount, shrimp exports hit a record $4.3 billion, pangasius exports reached $2.4 billion, and tuna exports were $1 billion, she added.
Vietnam’s largest seafood export markets are the US, Japan, China, and the EU.
Seafood exports to the US reached more than $2.1 billion last year. Meanwhile, exports to China hit a record $1.8 billion, up 57 percent year-on-year.
Exports to the EU and South Korea brought in $1.3 billion and $950 million, respectively. Seafood exports to ASEAN countries reached $767 million, up 27 percent year-on-year.
According to Hang, inflation is forecast to greatly affect consumer sectors globally, reducing seafood exports in the first quarter of 2023.
The seafood industry will also face tough competition from competitors that offer lower costs and prices such as Ecuador and India.
Export orders have fallen sharply, and many seafood processing enterprises have not received contracts for the first quarter of 2023.
Market demand will not recover until at least the second quarter or the second half of 2023, according to the director.
Seafood businesses are also facing problems accessing loans. Many large enterprises with large capital needs can not afford to purchase aquatic products and materials for production.
Some must operate at half capacity, affecting the industry’s growth and exports. Some businesses have had to stop construction of their seafood production facilities.
Currently, 279 members of the association, which contributed more than 80 percent of the country’s total seafood exports, are having difficulties in accessing loans.
Hang recommended exporters search for new export markets that are less affected by inflation such as ASEAN countries, the Middle East, and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) countries.
Exporters should focus on China, a traditionally lucrative market which is no longer following the “zero COVID” approach, and facilitate exports to this market.
Vietnam is currently the world’s third largest exporter of fish products, after China and Norway.
Seafood exports are expected to hold a 7 percent share of the total seafood exports in the global market, according to VASEP.