September 18, 2020
Vietnam pangasius exporters hit by COVID-19, saltwater intrusion
Basa, Tra or Panga (pangasius) fish farming has been hit by a double whammy of COVID-19 and prolonged saltwater intrusion in rivers in the Cửu Long (Mekong Delta) region, according to the Viet Nam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP).
Many pangasius-farming households and export firms have suffered in recent months as fish prices dropped steeply and export markets were stagnant.
Since the beginning of this year exports of the country's two main seafood products, tra fish and shrimp, have been down sharply.
Tra exports have been particularly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the first half of this year they were down 31% to US$612.3 million, according to VASEP. Shipments to all 10 leading markets decreased from the same period last year, by 15.5% in the case of China, 24.4% to the US and 36.6% to the EU.
Declining new orders, high inventories and low export prices have caused profits of businesses and fish-farming households to plummet, with many even suffering losses, VASEP said.
Lê Vĩnh Trọng, a tra fish farmer in An Giang Province's Châu Thành District, said normally the fish is harvested to sell to export processing plants when it reaches a weight of 0.8-1kg.
However, his fish are now more than 10 months old and weigh 1.8kg but there are no buyers.
He had to run around before finding a plant that agreed to buy the fish for VNĐ17,700-VNĐ18,000 per kilogramme, but on credit, prices at which he lost VNĐ5,000-VNĐ6,500 per kilogramme.
For the Đồng Tháp Province-based Vĩnh Hoàn Company (VHC), it announced that second quarter profit had halved year-on-year to VNĐ215 billion ($9.2 million). The half-yearly profit too halved to less than VNĐ368 billion.
VHC is considering investment strategies to increase profits through value chains. Besides its traditional tra exports, it is also eyeing an increase in sales of fish fat and fish meal by 20% and collagen and gelatin products by 60% this year, thanks to the commissioning of a new factory.
Nam Viet Corporation (NAVICO) saw second-quarter profit decrease by 79% year-on-year to VNĐ32 billion, its lowest since the beginning of 2017. In the first half of this year net revenues dropped by 14% while post-tax profits fell a whopping 79% to VNĐ75.5 billion.
The company forecasts full-year profit to fall by 72% to VNĐ200 billion.
Exports fell by 52% to VNĐ399 billion in the second quarter, but, thanks to its focus on the Vietnamese market, domestic sales rose 113% to VNĐ485 billion, surpassing exports for the first time.
Another company ANV is seeking to further exploit domestic demand by tying up with the distribution chain of VinEco belonging to Masan Group.