Pangasius fish price touches rock bottom

Price of Pangasius fish tumbled to its lowest level since the beginning of the year, causing a loss of VND4,000-7,000 a kilogram to farmers with large volumes still lying unsold in the Mekong Delta.

A large number of mature Pangasius fish is in unsold condition (Photo: SGGP)

This information was disclosed at a conference in the Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap on Tuesday, to review production and consumption of Pangasius fish in the first six months of the year and planning for the remaining months.

The conference was co-organized by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the People’s Committee of Dong Thap Province.

The retail price of Pangasius fish has continued to falling in the last few months to touch rock bottom at VND18,000-19,000 a kilogram, while the cost price remains VND23,000-25,000.

The loss of VND4,000-7,000 a kilogram is heavy on farmers as they are still unable to sell the mature fish.

Breeder Duong Thanh Thai from Thanh Binh District says he has seven fish farms over an area of 15,000 square meters. Two of his farms are at the moment empty and two others have mature fish but as yet unsold.

The high feed price is causing further losses each day as upto 7,000 tons of mature fish consume 20 tons of feed a day. 

According to Nguyen Van Kich, director general of Cafatex Company, the EU market used to import 50-60 percent of the Pangasius fish output of Vietnam annually. However, this figure has now dropped to only 25 percent.

Fish export price has also declined from US$3.1-3.2 to only $2.5-2.6 a kilogram at present.

In addition, the fish farming area has excessively broadened. Not only farmers but also businesses have rushed to invest in fish farms. The fish output from businesses’ farms is up to 600,000 tons now.

Farmers and businesses has done the fish farming and harvested at the same time, leading to a surplus supply and price tumble. Businesses of course will first consume their fish, leaving farmers in unsold condition.

Duong Ngoc Minh, deputy chairman of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers, said despite of low price, businesses have not purchased the fish due to capital shortage as banks have tightened their credit policies.

Transport and labor costs have also increased causing more difficulties to them.

Mr. Minh said that before 2008, the Mekong Delta had less than 30 Pangasius fish processing plants. Localities then rushed to open more plants and breeding farms.

According to the association, the Government should first provide a credit package of VND4 trillion (US$190 million) to help Pangasius fish breeders and businesses. In long term, they should set up floor prices for businesses to purchase and export Pangasius fish.

By Binh Dai – Translated by Hai Mien

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