Tuna exporters aiming for smaller markets

Domestic tuna exporters are targeting promising small markets to get out of current difficulties amid economic fluctuations in big importing countries.

Data from the General Department of Vietnam Customs showed tuna export revenue dropped 13 percent in February with no signs of improvement in March.

Total tuna export value in the first three months of this year is estimated at US$160 million.

According to the Vietnam Seafood Producers and Exporters (VASEP), the price of Vietnamese tuna is higher than that of other suppliers in major markets such as European countries and the US, but the increasing prices of material tuna are slowing down the flow of orders from importers, affecting Vietnam’s tuna exports to these markets.

Nguyen Ha, an expert from VASEP, forecast that Vietnam will continue to see a sharp drop in tuna export in the coming months. Among the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) members, although strong growth was seen in the Japanese and Mexican markets in February at 28 percent and 194 percent , respectively, the increase was not enough to make up for the fall in the largest tuna consumption market of Canada where an 81 percent reduction was recorded in the month.

In this context, exporters are exploring smaller markets. Ha said that the value of tuna export to European markets in February rose 59 percent year on year to nearly $14 million and is expected to top $33 million in the first quarter of 2023.

Strong growth was also recorded in potential small markets such as the Republic of Korea (525 percent ), the UK (182 percent ), Australia (104 percent ), Finland (654 percent ), and Algeria (363 percent ). VASEP General Secretary Truong Dinh Hoe said that amid high inflation, consumers tend to choose products with lower prices.

Meanwhile, input cost remains one of the barriers of the tuna sector. However, he showed optimistic in exports to markets that share free trade agreements (FTA) with Vietnam.

VASEP predicted that market demand will generally recover in the second half of 2023, leading to the recovery of the domestic tuna sector. Vietnam has high tuna reserve at about 600,000 tons, mostly in Binh Dinh, Phu Yen and Khanh Hoa provinces.