The UK is among the very few markets that recorded positive growth in seafood imports from Vietnam in the first 2 months of 2023. While exports to the top 10 largest markets all decreased by 18 – 50% over the same period, only the UK – the 6th largest market, still maintained an increase of 22%.
As of mid-February 2023, Vietnam pangasius exports to the UK market reached nearly 7 million USD, accounting for 4.5% of export value to markets. Particularly in the first half of February, pangasius exports to the UK increased dramatically by 142% over the same period.
In 2022, the UK is also in the top 6 importing pangasius markets of Vietnam, but only accounts for 2.6% with nearly 64 million USD, up 24% compared to 2021.
The UK has one of the highest inflation rates among major economies. By January 2023, the inflation rate in this country was still 10.1%, 5 times higher than the target set by the Bank of England.
Inflation changes UK seafood consumption trends. Instead of consuming more fresh/chilled seafood, today Britons are increasing their consumption of frozen seafood. In the UK, people between the ages of 50 and 75 consume the most fish, spending up to £4 a week on fish products. Meanwhile, people under 30 spend an average of just £1.9 a week on fish.
Particularly white fish is a popular product in the UK, in which the most used for the popular dish is fish & chip. Each year, imports of white fish into this market reach from $800 million to $1 billion. In 2022, imports of white fish into the UK market decreased by nearly 8%, of which the largest decrease was pollock with a decrease of 43%, cod with a decrease of 13%. Economic downturn and the conflicts between Russia and Ukraine have affected the consumption and imports.
Over the past year, Vietnam’s pangasius accounted for 5% of the UK’s total imports of white fish. This proportion is likely to be higher in 2023, when the UK economy is still heavily affected by inflation, the war between Russia and Ukraine still limits the supply of cod and pollock to this market. Fish & chip dishes may have to use more pangasius and other white fish as alternatives.
The advantage from preferential tariffs under the UKVFTA is also an opportunity for businesses to take advantage of, especially in the context that importers want to find sources of competitive priced goods for the domestic market.
Therefore, along with China, the UK is also an optimistic destination for pangasius enterprises in 2023.
UK imports of white fish, 2018-2022 (Thousand USD)