At the “Pangasius and Aquatic Products of Vietnam” Fair, Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung said that this is a good opportunity to boost the image and the brand of products and increase aquatic product consumption in the domestic market.

Much potential for growth
According to Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Vu Van Tam, with export turnover of over US$7 billion a year, brackish shrimp and catfish are two key exports of Vietnam, accounting for more than 67 per cent of total agricultural export value in 2016. In particular, pangasius has long been considered a billion-dollar export. According to experts, this commodity has development advantages in the Mekong Delta. The region can harvest 1.5 million tonnes on only 5,000 ha of surface water and earn nearly US$2 billion from pangasius export. If the market is expanded, the farming area may reach 8,000 ha and the output may be over two million tonnes.

Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung said at the fair that the Government advocates restructuring agricultural production towards interrelating production with consumption and market in order to assure the global position of Vietnamese aquatic products. Vietnam will apply advanced farming and processing technologies to lower production costs.

Vietnamese pangasius and other aquatic products have been well-known worldwide for a long time. However, a majority of northerners know nothing or little now about pangasius. Thus, aquatic enterprises need solutions to expand northern market development. Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung said the Government will assign the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to find solutions to develop aquaculture and process pangasius and other aquatic products with the highest quality. The Ministry of Industry and Trade will seek consumption markets and support enterprises to develop domestic and export markets. The Ministry of Science and Technology will work out comprehensive business support solutions to product standards and specifications to ensure that Vietnamese products meet the demands and tastes of high-standard markets such as the United States, Japan and Europe.

Seeking new directions for development
Mr Tran Dinh Luan, Deputy General Director of the Vietnam Directorate of Fisheries, emphasised that pangasius products have a high nutritional value and reasonable prices, and fit the needs of people aged 25- 45. Nevertheless, pangasius products do not draw enough interest from Vietnamese consumers. Hence, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development will designate the Directorate of Fisheries to set up a public private partnership workgroup for the fishery sector which will collaborate with many organisations such as the Vietnam Pangasius Association, the Vietnam Fisheries Society (Vinafish), the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), and some nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) to organise business clubs to bring Vietnamese pangasius products to Vietnamese consumers via supermarkets and restaurants.

Dr Dinh Thi My Loan, President of the Association of Vietnam Retailers (AVR), said, the opportunity for the domestic aquatic processing industry is enormous as seafood per capita is 27 kg a year. The value of processed aquatic products is projected to climb 5.37 per cent annually from 2011 to 2020. The domestic consumption is forecast to reach 940,000 tonnes in 2020. On the other hand, this sector is assessed to have competitive advantages such as low capital investment, short return period and high business efficiency. Small businesses, households and people can join collective production.

However, according to practical research, she pointed out limitations of this industry, such as overlapping management exercised by different ministries such as the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Health.

Mr Dao Trong Hieu from the Agro Processing and Market Development Authority under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said another vital issue is food safety, which fails to meet many order requirements, resulting in value drops. Therefore, he recommended enterprises strictly tighten product quality management and register food quality, hygiene and safety standards.