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Oysters, sea cucumbers, dried fish thrive amidst export decline

The Saigon Times

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HCMC – Amidst a decline in major seafood exports, outbound sales of oysters, sea cucumbers, and dried fish are bucking the trend.

Overall seafood exports from Vietnam dropped by 15.3% in volume and 25.9% in value during the first five months of this year, reaching 816,000 tons and US$3.47 billion, according to data from the General Department of Vietnam Customs.

Against all odds, oysters have experienced a strong resurgence in popularity among international consumers. Vietnam exported over 2,700 tons worth US$5 million from January to May, up 40% year-on-year.

Sea cucumbers have also gained favor in overseas consumer markets, with export volume skyrocketing by 160% and value increasing by 40% over the year-ago period at 70 tons and US$1.7 million.

Foreign shipments of dried fish have also gained momentum, with volume surging by 40% year-on-year to 39,400 tons. Additionally, tinned fish exports have picked up by 20% over the year earlier at 11,200 tons.

The increased popularity and demand for sea cucumbers can be attributed to their exoticism and rarity. On the other hand, the rising demand for oysters is driven by improved quality and competitive pricing.

China has emerged as the leading consumer of Vietnamese oysters, solidifying its position as the primary destination for this delicacy.

According to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), dried fish and tinned fish have also become bright spots. Inflation in destination markets has shifted consumer behavior, leading them to favor dried and canned food over fresh alternatives.

Among dried fish varieties, anchovies and yellowstripe scads have become the most popular choices, securing respective market share of 66% and 14%.

Mainland China was the biggest buyer of Vietnamese dried fish, holding a share of 56%, followed by Russia (17%), Malaysia (8%), Hong Kong (4%), and South Korea (3%).

In the face of challenges, Vietnamese seafood exporters must adapt and seize opportunities. To capitalize on their advantages, VASEP suggests adjusting pricing strategies and offering additional services to make products more appealing to target markets.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, while the recovery of seafood exports is showing promising signs, achieving this year’s targets remains a challenge. The ministry has projected a robust acceleration in seafood exports during the third quarter, with export value expected to range between US$850 million and US$900 million.

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