Ornamental fish exporters struggling to revive

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Though Vietnam has risen to one of the world’s top 20 ornamental fish exporters, the sector is still struggling to recover post-pandemic due to rising shipping costs.

ornamental fish exporters struggling to revive picture 1
Director of Sai Gon Ornamental Creatures Co-Operative Nguyen Van Thuy. (Photo: cafebiz.vn)

Two thirds of ornamental fish farms in Vietnam are located in Ho Chi Minh City which accounts for 62% of the country’s total exports of the product, according to the municipal Fisheries Sub-Department.

The 10,000sqm farm of the Sai Gon Ornamental Creatures Co-Operative on the outskirt district of Cu Chi is one of them. Founded in 2013, the 33-member co-operative exported more than one million fishes of various species every month. Its month revenue stood at around VND2.5 billion (US$106,700).

Director of the co-operative Nguyen Van Thuy said the farm is cultivating dozens of species, including many high-value ones, such as discus, flower horn, freshwater angelfish and goldfish. Its biggest buyers comprise the US, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, UAE, South Africa, India and several EU nations.

Before the COVID-19 broke out, Vietnam earned some US$23-US$25 million annually in turnover from exports of ornamental fishes. The figure dropped to just US$15-US$17 million in 2020-2021 because of impacts of the pandemic.

As challenges were likely to linger on this year, the industry brought home US$6.5 million from January-June.

Exporters are redoubling efforts to enter new markets and expand product persity so as to recover to the pre-pandemic level.

Trinh Ngoc Hung, Deputy Director of Saigon Aquarium Corp., one of the leading breeders and exporters of tropical freshwater aquarium fish in Vietnam, it is now the critical period for exporters to get ready for the peak season. Since foreigners usually travel during the three-month summer, he said, sales tend to rise in the end of August as people purchase fishes to prepare for Christmas.

Lam Dieu Tai, manager of a farm in the Mekong Delta of Long An, exporters are having a hard time as a result of a lack of international flights and rising shipping costs.

It cost about US$4 per kg to ship consignments to the US in 2020. The rate now increased to nearly US$16 per kg, Tai said, adding that it is also not easy to merge orders sent to a same country for cost-saving like before.

Source: VNS

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