Tra fish exporters struggle with production, exports hinh anh 1Illustrative image (Photo: VNA)
HCM City (VNS/VNA) - Tra (pangasius) fish farming has been hit by a double whammy of COVID-19 and prolonged saltwater intrusion in rivers in the Mekong Delta region, according to the Vietnam 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 percent to 612.3 million USD, according to VASEP. Shipments to all 10 leading markets decreased from the same period last year, by 15.5 percent in the case of China, 24.4 percent to the US and 36.6 percent 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.

Le Vinh Trong, a tra fish farmer in An Giang province’s Chau Thanh 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 17,700-18,000 VND per kilogramme, but on credit, prices at which he lost 5,000-6,500 VND per kilogramme.

Dong Thap province-based Vinh Hoan Company (VHC) announced that second quarter profit had halved year-on-year to 215 billion VND (9.2 million USD).

The half-yearly profit too halved to less than 368 billion VND.

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 percent and collagen and gelatin products by 60 percent this year, thanks to the commissioning of a new factory.

Nam Viet Corporation (ANV) saw second-quarter profit decrease by 79 percent year-on-year to 32 billion VND, its lowest since the beginning of 2017.

In the first half of this year net revenues dropped by 14 percent while post-tax profits fell a whopping 79 percent to 75.5 billion VND.

The company forecasts full-year profit to fall by 72 percent to 200 billion VND.

Exports fell by 52 percent to 399 billion VND in the second quarter, but, thanks to its focus on the Vietnamese market, domestic sales rose 113 percent to 485 billion VND, surpassing exports for the first time.

ANV is seeking to further exploit domestic demand by tying up with the distribution chain of VinEco belonging to Masan Group.

Diversifying products and export markets is helping create growth momentum and remove difficulties for tra fish exports, VASEP said./.