Tra fish sector faces tough times

The local tra fish sector is facing multiple difficulties, as the price of tra fish has plunged due to stagnant outbound sales.

Compared to the highest price last year, the price of material tra fish has plunged by VND11,000 per kilogram to VND24,000-25,000. This low rate has left local tra fish farmers on the verge of losses.

Ong Hang Van, deputy director of Truong Giang Seafood JSC in the Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap, attributed the price drop to the lower demand from China and the United States, Vietnam’s key tra fish importers. Last year, the United States spent US$549 million on purchasing a huge volume of tra fish from Vietnam, so it may still have large reserves.

Chinese traders had earlier bought dozens of tons of tra fish per day. However, they no longer come to Vietnam to purchase the product now, Van explained.

Vinh Hoan Corporation, a seafood exporter in Dong Thap Province, shipped 6,500 tons of tra fish in the first month of the year with 80% being sent stateside. Last month, the figure plunged to 3,000 tons.

Meanwhile, Bien Dong Seafood Co. Ltd in Can Tho City exported 700 tons of tra fish in February, well below 3,600 tons in the previous month.

Last month, most tra fish exporters reported a month-on-month fall in export volumes of nearly 50%, Van noted.

According to Van, importers in both the Asian and European markets tend to wait for further reductions in the price of tra fish, while the areas for tra fish farming are projected to increase by 50% over last year, thereby worsening the situation.

The local tra fish sector saw a robust growth in the last two years thanks to a surge in prices, helping domestic farmers and enterprises earn high profits.

The highest tra fish price last year was VND36,000 per kilogram, also being the highest price ever. The country exported US$2.26 billion worth of the product, up 26% over the same period in the previous year.

At a conference in An Giang Province on February 15 on plans to develop the tra fish sector this year, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong stressed that the achievements in 2018 were tremendous. He set a target of US$2.4 billion for revenue from the export of tra fish this year, an increase of 12% over 2018.


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