GLOBAL - China has now surpassed the European Union to become the world's second biggest importer of Vietnamese Catfish, after the USA, reports Rob Reierson in the Tradex Foods 3-Minute market Insight.
As of last month, Pangasius imports in China from Vietnam have grown a massive 76 percent compared to the same period last year, marking two years of consecutive growth.
In the USA, Vietnamese Pangasius exports to the USA were up 27 percent over last year.
The US Department of Agriculture took over Domestic Pangasius inspections in March this year, which requires inspection of ALL foreign and domestic species of Catfish, compared to FDA who only inspected 1 to 2 percent of imports.
With continued steady growth and USDA catfish inspection program changes, the Vietnam Trade Promotion Office believes China will soon become the world's biggest buyer of pangasius.
--- According to leading buyers in China, the domestic market was small 5 years ago but is strong now and they see promising growth.
Chinese processors used to sell large volumes of Channel Catfish, but there are now markets for both Chinese Catfish and Pangasius domestically.
Channel Catfish has a high price point of $3.75/lb for 5-7oz fillets, compared to $1.54/lb in Boston for Pangasius fillets.
--- In terms of quality, most offers for channel catfish from the South of China are for 40-60 percent net weight, thus confusing the market with a variety of prices.
Many uneducated Catfish buyers in China purchase these fillets for stewing or soups, where high moisture content goes unnoticed.
In the Asian market, Channel catfish fillets will sell for 50 RMB per kg, compared to 35 RMB per kg for Vietnamese Pangasius.
In US dollars, this is about $1.00/lb difference with Catfish at $3.30/lb.
--- Expect High Anti-dumping duties, heightened USDA inspections, and growing global competition to pressure US Pangasius markets for the next fiscal year.