Pangasius is no longer the dominant force in the Vietnamese fish export trade. This is due to adverse publicity in European countries which has resulted in poor sales, and a lack of investment capital in Vietnam which has seen independent farmers forced out of business.
“The farmers now refrain from breeding pangasius,” said a seafood specialist. “We will probably end up with only 600,000 to at most 800,000 tonnes of harvested fish this year – about half of what it was five years ago. Pangasius farmers are increasingly turning to tilapia instead.”
Tilapia is farmed in cages in the Rivers Hau and Tien, the main branches of the Mekong River. Both red tilapia (Orechromis niloticus) and black tilapia (Tilapia mossambicus) are grown in about equal quantities and, like pangasius, are mostly exported in fillet form.
According to local media, Vietnam’s tilapia exports have enjoyed strong growth during the past decade, increasing from an export value of $1.95 million in 2004 to more than $32.2 million in 2014.
In 2014, Vietnam exported tilapia to more than 60 countries, according to official sources. The USA was the key market, importing 1745 tonnes valued at $5.24 million, and accounting for 18.2% of exports, followed by Spain with imports valued at $3.7 million and Colombia with imports valued at $3.03 million. The remaining top 10 importers were the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Mexico, the UK, the Czech Republic and Italy.
One reason why tilapia from Vietnam is being readily accepted is that “the quality in Vietnam is far better than, for example, China which is the biggest supplier of tilapia. Vietnam is cutting out an edge in the market with ASC quality tilapia which China cannot supply.”
[Source: World Fishing. Read article]