Seafood exports down in 2015
Overall fish and seafood exports by Vietnamese producers fell a walloping 14.5% for 2015 compared to 2014 to US$6.7 billion, with shrimp sales plummeting 30% to US$3 billion, roughly the same global sales figure as Ecuador.
The Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) has reported preliminary estimates show that the Southeast Asian nation’s overseas consignments of shrimp dropped precipitously for 2015.
Official statistics show Vietnam, as opposed to Ecuador, has a less focused shotgun approach to shrimp, fish and other seafood exports with shipments to innumerable less targeted markets in some 164 countries.
Chairman Ngo Van Ich of VASEP said the shrimp industry clearly has fallen into a state of disarray brought about by a lack of market focus, emphasis on quality and the failure to develop a targeted winning competitive strategy.
Ich said Ecuador’s success in the Asian market should serve as a wakeup call to those in the shrimp industry.
Meanwhile, statistics from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in the Cau Ngang District of Tra Vinh Province show that 52% of the 6,000 farmers in the region suffered losses or just broke even in 2015.
Chairman Vo Bang Truc of Thanh Phuoc Commune People’s Committee in turn reported most farmers in the commune and surrounding region were hard hit by shrimp diseases and 80-90% incurred losses for the year.
Most leading experts say the problem has little if anything to do with exchange rates- but has everything to do with a lack of focus on food safety, quality, appropriate business strategy and meeting the needs of the global consumer.
The bottom line is that overall shrimp production and exports out of Ecuador in 2015 were at record levels and trended 12.5% higher per month throughout the year compared to 2014, capturing the Asian market.
Meanwhile, Ecuador’s shrimp farming industry seems to have found a formula for success and they are rapidly becoming the dominant force to reckon with in Asian markets, with exports to China up sharply in 2015.
Official statistics through November show Ecuador’s shrimp exports, led by head-on frozen shrimp, to all Asian markets surged 65% over the same period last year to roughly 350,000 metric tons (US$3.0 billion).
Most of the shipments were bound for China, as sales to Asian customers exploded to 42.5% of the South American nation’s overall exports to major markets for the year, followed by the EU (at 30%) and US (at 23.7%),
Leading producers say they prefer to harvest head on shrimp as it keeps their labour costs down and prioritize the Chinese and EU markets where buyers generally prefer head-on shrimp.
Such shrimp are also used for reprocessing in China and other Asian markets.
Additionally, they concentrate on markets such as China and the EU where buyers tend to prefer 41 and smaller count shrimp, which command a much higher price than in other markets such as the US.
The crux of the matter is that Ecuadorian producers focus on satisfying the Asian and EU markets and put the US market on the back burner, according to Jose Campasano, president of Ecuador’s Chamber of Aquaculture.
In a recent widely reported statement to the press, Campasano said Ecuador’s strategy is for a sustainable growth rate that guarantees quality for consumers and profits for farmers, adding he believes a 10-15% advance in the Asian market in 2016 is within grasp.