Vietnam eyes bigger share in Australia’s shrimp market

By    September 12, 2016 | 01:29 am PT
The seafood industry is also hoping for a rebound after exports plunged last year.

Vietnam, already one of the biggest seafood exporters to Australia, is aiming to expand its market down under with a major boost in shrimp shipments.

Australia imports 200,000 to 280,000 tons of seafood each year, which accounts for about 70 percent of the country’s demand. Vietnam is its fourth largest seafood supplier, after Thailand, China and New Zealand, with an 11.2 percent market share, according to the Vietnam Trade Office under the Vietnamese Embassy in Australia.

Statistics show that Vietnam’s seafood exports to Australia soared 84 percent to $1.6 billion in 2015, from $868 million in 2011.

The most important product is shrimp, which makes up about 60 percent of the total turnover, according to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP). Vietnam’s tiger shrimp in particular is a favorite among Australian consumers, the industry group added.

But at the moment, about 80 percent of Vietnam’s shrimp exports to Australia are frozen, processed products, leaving a prominently untapped segment of unprocessed shrimp that Vietnamese exporters need to discover.

Vietnam has asked Australian fishery authorities to open this market segment of whole fresh shrimp to Vietnamese exporters, said Vu Van Tam, Deputy Minister of Rural Development and Agriculture.

He said for the past few years, Vietnam has remained the leading supplier of processed shrimp to Australia. However, a change in export strategies is needed as shipments started to show signs of slowing down last year, when a 25.6 percent decline was recorded.

In the final months of the year, Australia is expected to send a working group to Vietnam to conduct a review of biosecurity requirements for unprocessed shrimp imports, Tam said.

Vietnam’s seafood exports, which have grown persistently over the past 20 years, are poised for a small increase of 4.5 percent this year after sales to overseas markets fell by 15 percent to $6.7 billion last year, according to VASEP.

Seafood exports, one of the key foreign currency earners for Vietnam, have taken a worse turn earlier this year due to adverse weather conditions and an environmental disaster along the central coast.

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