Stretching over more than 3,260 kilometers of coastlines, 12 lagoons and straits, and 112 estuaries, and boasting thousands of islands and condensed systems of rivers and streams, Vietnam is one of the countries having great potential in developing the fishery industry. The country has become one of the world’s largest exporters of aquatic products.
At present, Vietnam has 67 enterprises that have obtained the Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) certificate, which is a set of farm-raised seafood certification standards developed by Global Aquaculture Alliance. Of which 12 have four-star BAP certificates. Many big enterprises such as Minh Phu Seafood Corporation, Vinh Hoan Corporation, and Hung Vuong Corporation have expanded their capacities, and reaped very high export turnover.
These enterprises’ food safety is well managed under international standards. Specifically, AGIFISH Company in the southernmost province of An Giang has been implementing a project about raising safe tra fish in an area of more than 20 hectares in Cho Moi district’s An Trach Trung commune. Viet An Export Frozen Seafood Processing Joint-Stock Company has invested in producing safe fish materials, and earmarked $300,000 building a modern laboratory in charge of testing the quality of products before they are processed for exports.
In another case, Hai Thuan Company Limited in the south-central province of Binh Thuan has also applied modern technology for its production. Specifically it individually tests packages of materials before processing them. Also, before the products are marketed, they are once again tested. With this method, Hai Thuan exports 60 tonnes of frozen octopus products to Japan every month, regardless of high costs.
According to the General Department of Customs, in 2016, thanks to great efforts of enterprises, aquaculture continued being the biggest export driver of Vietnam’s agricultural sector. Its total export turnover hit $7.03 billion, up 7.31 per cent as compared to the previous year.
Meanwhile, shrimp and tra fish have also contributed significantly to Vietnam’s aquatic product exports. With plentiful advantages and produced by big factories through modern technologies, and granted with many types of food safety certificates by ministries, and local and foreign prestigious organizations, Vietnam’s aquatic products have been marketed in 164 countries and territories.
Because Vietnam’s shrimp tastes good without smell of mud, it has become a favorite worldwide. That is why it is now occupying 44 per cent – the highest rate – in Vietnam’s all aquatic product exports, followed by tra fish (24 per cent), tuna (7 per cent), and other types of sea fish (16 per cent). At present, Vietnam has 350 shrimp-processing plants, with a total capacity of 1.4 million tonnes per year. In addition, the country’s shrimp-production and shrimp-processing technologies are in line with international standards. Vietnam is one of the world’s five biggest shrimp exporters. While being the biggest shrimp supplier for Japan, Vietnam is also the third largest shrimp source of the US, and the fourth supplier of this product in the EU.
Along with the shrimp sector, the tra fish (pangasius) sector has also witnessed strong development over the past years and contributed greatly to the development of the aquaculture sector in general. Tra fish is the second largest consumption, after tuna Tasmanian Atlantic. About 20 years ago, tra fish was the key money earner of Mekong Delta farmers. At present, Vietnam has exported its tra fish products to more than 130 countries and territories.
According to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), the tra fish sector has spectacularly developed over the past decade, with an annual output soaring from 10,000 to 1.4 million tonnes, and the annual export turnover skyrocketing from $60 million to $1.8 billion. In 2016, tra fish product export turnover accounted for 24 per cent of Vietnam’s total export turnover. Vietnam has exported this product to many big markets, such as the US, EU and Australia.
Vietnam’s tra fish product exports are recognized by many international experts and organizations to meet all strict food safety standards, from the production stage – with areas meeting environmental standards like Global GAP, ASC, and VietGap - to processing plants that also meet food safety requirements such as HACCP, Halal, BRC, and ISO.
Vietnam’s aquatic products in the South Korean market:
South Korean people have long-standing aquaculture cuisine tradition, and they consider aquatic products as a good source of nutrition. They attach great importance to the taste and the freshness of the products. Imported aquatic products in this market include Cephalopodans and Bivalvia, shrimp, cuttlefish, and octopus. Besides, tuna is also a favorite of the South Korean people.
Vietnam and South Korea have been co-operating in trading in aquatic product for many decades, and Vietnamese products have become very popular in South Korea. At present, Vietnam is South Korea’s third largest aquatic product supplier, and South Korea is Vietnam’s fourth largest buyer of these products.
The outstanding point of South Korean consumers is that their consumption relies more on habit than taste. That is why South Korea has to import these products from more than 100 foreign markets, which can meet their people’s different consumption habits. The habits pertain to products’ weight, colors, quality and even brand names. Moreover, South Korean people also like the similar sizes of products.
The South Korean market is very sensitive to issues about environmental pollution and antibiotic residues. This market attaches great importance to environmental protection, green technology, biological products and sustainable development. Hence, the lessons and experiences from processing products for the Japanese market have been a very big advantage of Vietnamese processors and exporters.
Han Yong Shin which is an enterprise from Korea Importers Association said that South Korean consumers very much like Vietnam’s processed aquatic products, especially shrimp because this product tastes good.
Vietnamese enterprises are also flexible in fulfilling their customers’ orders. This is also one of the reasons why Vietnam became the biggest shrimp product supplier for South Korea in 2016. Specifically, Vietnam’s shrimp products accounted for almost 53 per cent of South Korea’s total imported shrimp product volume, and increased 12 per cent year-on-year. Vietnam was also the second supplier of frozen shrimp materials and non-airtight bagged processed shrimp products for South Korea.
In addition to shrimp, the second important aquatic product that South Korea imports from Vietnam is mollusca, especially cuttlefish and octopus.
According to the International Trade Centre (ITC), Vietnam also takes the lead among three nations that export processed octopus products to the South Korean market. Though being South Korea’s fifth largest supplier of processed cuttlefish products in volume, Vietnam ranks second in South Korea in terms of turnover, only after Thailand, and far higher than other suppliers including China, Chile and Peru.
Recently it was announced that South Korea will add frozen shrimp products to its list of imported goods that needs quarantine before being imported into this country. At present, the list includes only frozen abalone and oyster products.
This new regulation will take effect on April 1, 2017, and be valid for all World Trade Organization member countries, including Vietnam, that export aquatic products to South Korea.
With their big experiences in meeting strict requirements from demanding markets such as Japan, the US and the EU, Vietnamese aquatic product exporters will surely be able to approach and boost exports to South Korea in 2017 and beyond. Especially the Vietnam-Korea Free Trade Agreement, which features tariff priorities, will further facilitate South Korean importers to co-operate with Vietnamese partners.