December 27, 2008


Russia suspends imports of Vietnamese pangasius catfish


Russia has suspended imports of Vietnamese pangasius catfish since December 20 as the products failed to meet safety and hygiene standards, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).


About 38 batches of Vietnamese seafood, including 27 batches of pangasius, were warned of low quality this year, up from only 16 batches in 2007.


Vietnam's Mekong Delta region has 168 seafood exporting companies, but only 57 have their own processing plants, accounting for 89 percent of market share. However, many of them were found exporting low quality products to Russia, which led to the suspension of pangasius imports from six companies out of a total of 38 firms.


The suspension worried Mekong Delta's pangasius breeders as demand for the fish and its price has sharply decreased.


The fish is currently selling for only VND13,000-VND14,200 per kg, which is a loss of VND1,000-VND1,500 per kg for local breeders.


Russia's decision will hurt Mekong Delta's pangasius industry because the country is the largest pangasius importer of the region, accounting for 14 percent of total pangasius exports, according to Nguyen Van Thanh, director of the An Giang provincial service of MARD.


Mekong Delta region's pangasius output is forecast to decrease by 50 percent to only 500,000 tonnes in 2009.
US$1 = VND17,450 (Dec 29)
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