The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on seafood companies in Vietnam, according to a survey by the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP). The seafood companies are experiencing declines in orders of 35-50%, mostly due to cancellations, delays, or shortages of raw materials since the beginning of March.
COVID-19 Impact on Seafood Exporters
The pandemic is spreading rapidly, and many companies feel that the impact of COVID-19 would become more serious. The exports of tra fish to China stalled since January, and exports to the European Union (EU) markets were facing difficulties in March as the bloc closed its external borders.
In mid-March, exports to the Middle East, Asia, and South Africa also started to struggle. As people stay at home to prevent the spread of the pandemic, demand is dropping. The seafood companies are suffering shortages of raw materials, and both producers and exporters are facing high inventories.
Seafood Exports Struggle
The statistics from the General Department of Customs show that seafood exports totaled more than US$990 million in the first two months of 2020, a drop of 11% against the same period in 2019. Exports to China fell by 44%, EU by 20%, ASEAN markets by 4%, and the Republic of Korea by 9%.
Exports of shrimp, the country’s largest export seafood, saw a slight increase of 2.6% to $383 million. It was mainly due to the increase of 16% in exports to Japan while exports to China fell by 37% and to the EU by 15%.
Tra fish exports are expected to suffer the most, with a drop of at least 20% in the first quarter of this year, as China was the largest market for Vietnam’s tra fish, accounting for 35%. Tra fish exports to China dropped by 52% in the first two months, and to the EU by 40%.
Improving Tra Fish Quality to Promote Exports
VASEP urged producers to focus on improving the quality of tra fish to promote exports to the US from next year. Several tra fish companies expect exports to China to recover from next month and return to normal from June.