January 31, 2005

 

 

Foreign investors eyeing Vietnam's aquatic feed market

 

With aquaculture a hot industry in Vietnam, the demand for specialised feed is increasing rapidly in the country.  Thus, foreign companies are all vying for a piece of the growing market in aquatic feed.

 

Foreign feed companies now produce about 400,000 tons a year of food for the seafood sector, but that isn't enough to satisfy the aquaculture industry.

 

Vietnam must import between 140,000 and 150,000 tons of marine feed a year from Thailand, Hong Kong and Taiwan to meet demand.

 

Most of the 13 aquatic feed plants now operating in the country are foreign invested, says the fisheries ministry.

 

Aquaculture areas have expanded to 1 million hectares, with annual catches now up to1.2 million tons a year. Black shrimp, tilapias and ba sa catfish are the three major marine life species raised.

 

Most foreign-invested animal feed plants in the last three years have made additional investments to produce aquatic feed as well as grain for pigs and poultry.

 

Just in the last two years, Proconco, a Vietnamese-French joint venture specialising in animal feed, doubled its production at its Can Tho plant to supply catfish breeders in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta.

 

The US Cargill animal feed company, based in Dong Nai since 1998, produces fish, pig and poultry feed, and the Korean CJ Vina Agri company last year built a plant able to produce 12,000 tons aquatic feed a year.

 

Several state companies are also in the competition, with Cataco, a Vietnamese state-run company in Can Tho, processing 25,000 tons of fish feed a year. It plans to build a shrimp food plant in 2005.

 

According to marine life officials, only 30 to 40 per cent of black shrimp are fed the appropriate food.

 

The black shrimp farming area has grown to 550,000 ha, accounting for more than half of the country's total aquacultural area.

 

Ha Xuan Thong, director of the fisheries ministry's marine products planning and economy institute, said the ministry is encouraging tilapias breeders to produce at least 200,000 tons of fish by 2010, half of which will be exported and sold for about US$160 million.

 

The current demand of 50,000 tons of tilapia feed a year is expected to increase sharply in the years to come, he said.

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