Vietnam tuna export enterprises face many challenges

In April 2023, Vietnam’s tuna exports remained at a lower level than in the same period last year. Tuna export value in this month only reached $67 million, down 38% compared to the same period in 2022. Therefore, cumulatively in the first 4 months of the year, tuna exports still decreased by 33%, reaching nearly $248 million.

Tuna processing and exporting enterprises are facing many difficulties because of uncertainties of the market, rising raw price and production costs.

Skipjack tuna prices hit a peak

Continuously from the beginning of the year, tuna catches remained low, causing a decrease in the supply of raw materials. This has pushed skipjack prices to peaks.

The price of frozen whole skipjack tuna with size >1.8kg in Bangkok, after a slight decrease from $1,750/ton to $1,700/ton, stabilized in February. However, lower catches has led to a decrease in the amount of skipjack tuna arriving at Bangkok ports, causing prices to increase significantly.

The price of frozen whole skipjack tuna with size >1.8kg in Bangkok rose to $2,050/ton in May, an increase of nearly 21% in just 3 months, and an increase of 8% over the same period. This is the highest price in the past 5 years.

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Low demand in key markets

Tuna exports to traditional markets all decreased in April. Besides, some new markets still increased strongly such as Israel up 49%, Thailand up 486% and Russia up 486%.

Export to the US market continues to fall deeply. The US economic situation is getting worse and worse, and consumers are becoming more cautious. Americans are gradually cutting back on spending on low-value items, they buy less non-essential groceries, buy in bulk… According to CNN, major US chain stores including Nordstrom, Walmart , Whole Foods, Starbucks and CVS have recently closed in several major US cities, raising alarm bells about the future of retail in the country. This situation has caused Vietnam’s tuna exports to the US to continue to decrease by 60% in April 2023. And cumulatively in the first 4 months of the year, tuna exports to this market decreased by 55%, reaching nearly $90 million. The proportion of tuna export turnover to the US from 55% in the first 4 months of 2022 has decreased to 36% in the same period this year.

Tuna exports to the EU, after a slight increase of 5% in March, reversed in April. Export value to this market in April was only nearly 11 million USD, down 28% over the same period. In the first 4 months of 2023, the export turnover to this market decreased by 9%, reaching more than 48 million USD.

In April, Vietnam tuna exports to Lithuania showed significant growth, surpassing Italy and becoming the EU’s third largest import market  of Vietnamese tuna after Germany and the Netherlands. Exports to Germany also experienced an increase of 25% during the same period. In the CPTPP market bloc,  after continuously increasing imports of Vietnamese tuna in the first 3 months of 2023, exports to Japan experienced a 25% decline in April. Exports to Mexico and Chile saw significant increases of 117% and 78% respectively compared to the previous year.

The challenging export market has made it difficult for businesses to secure orders and acquire capital for raw materials, affecting the reserve of fishermen. To support fishermen and maintain production, companies have increased processed tuna production and explored new markets. However, export orders have sharply decreased, resulting in increased inventories. Additionally, rising input costs have led most businesses to operate cautiously and seek state support.