Tuna exporters aim for 8 percent increase this year hinh anh 1Illustrative image (Photo: VNA)

HCM City (VNA) - Tuna exports are expected to increase by 8 percent this year to 524 million USD, according to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Producers and Exporters (VASEP).

VASEP General Secretary Truong Dinh Hoe said that after falling for three years, tuna exports went up by 9 percent last year to 500 million USD, with frozen tuna loin and canned tuna accounting for 47 percent and 30 percent.

The US, EU, ASEAN, Israel, China, and Japan were the largest buyers, he said.

Shipments to the US were worth 200 million USD, a year-on-year increase of 4.5 percent, making Vietnam the second biggest exporter to that market.

Faced with similar import tariffs as the other main tuna exporting countries, if Vietnamese firms maintain quality and supply, Vietnam would remain the second largest exporter to the US or even surpass Indonesia to become the largest in a few years, Hoe said.

Exports to the EU, the second biggest buyer, reached 110 million USD last year, an increase of 11.5 percent over 2015.

Frozen tuna loin was the main item (accounting for 36 percent) followed by canned tuna (31 percent), frozen whole tuna (20 percent) and others.

Italy, German and Belgium were the three main markets in the EU, accounting for 57 percent of the imports.

Italy is among the largest tuna consumption markets in the world, and Vietnamese firms exported mainly frozen yellow-fin tuna to that market and had a 28 percent market share, Hoe said.

Export of the fish is expected to increase further, especially after the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement comes into force and Vietnamese tuna attracts lower tariffs than that of its rivals, he said.

Exports to China increased by 69.2 percent last year, but exports to Japan went down by 6.9 percent.

Japan’s tuna imports are falling every year since young people there increasingly prefer meat, reducing consumption of tuna sashimi and sushi, Hoe said.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, consumption of fresh and frozen tuna in Japan reduced by 3 percent last year.

In the long term, its seafood imports will continue to fall.

The depreciation of the yen also affected tuna exports to Japan, Vasep said.

Vietnam has a very small share (0.5 percent) of the Japanese fresh/frozen tuna market, it said.

Hoe said this year Vietnamese tuna exporters would increase exports of frozen tuna loin to take full advantage of domestic supply of the fish as well as imports.-VNA