Seafood Grows at Record but Challenges Looming on the Horizon

3:31:17 PM | 2/13/2023

Looking back at the picture of Vietnam's agriculture, forestry and fishery in 2022, seafood was the brightest as it stated an annual growth of 23.6%. In particular, seafood exports exceeded the US$ 10 billion mark for the first time. However, in 2023, global economic recession, rising inflation and fiercer competition herald a challenging year for the seafood industry.

Vietnam’s aquatic exports hit US$11 billion in 2022

According to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), Vietnam’s aquatic export value reached US$11 billion in 2022, including US$4.3 billion from shrimps, US$2.5 billion from pangasius, US$3.2 billion from seafood (US$1 billion from tuna and US$768 million from squid and octopus). All products grew from 18-65% on average, led by pangasius export which surged 65%, followed by tuna which soared 40%, squid and octopus (30%) and shrimp (14%).

Early challenges in the year

In the past year, Vietnam’s five largest aquatic export markets were the United States, China, the EU, Japan, and South Korea. They accounted for nearly 80% of total aquatic export value.

The United States alone, for the first time, spent over US$2 billion on Vietnamese seafood, an increase of nearly 10% compared to 2021. Exports to China, Hong Kong and Japan brought US$1.75 billion to Vietnam.

Vietnam earned over US$1.3 billion in aquatic exports to the EU market and over US$9,622 million from South Korea. The bloc of CPTPP countries (including Japan), accounted for over 26% of Vietnam's total aquatic exports after growing 34% over 2021.

In general, the outstanding growth of seafood exports resulted from the outperformance in the three first quarters of the year while exports in the fourth quarter declined, especially in the last two months of 2022, when shipments contracted for the first time.

Mr. Truong Dinh Hoe, General Secretary of VASEP, said that the seafood industry is being affected by high inflation, which weakens purchasing power in markets that are consuming seafood.

Meanwhile, exchange rate differences are making Vietnam’s exports more expensive than competitors in major import markets such as Europe and the US. Many seafood businesses have their order delivery delayed or even cancelled by their partners.

Inflation is heavily hitting import markets and almost stagnating purchase demand in the first quarter of 2023. Many seafood companies reported a sharp drop in orders.

A survey that interviewed 117 seafood businesses in both direct and online forms, conducted by, showed that 71% of respondents anticipated that seafood prospects will be difficult in 2023, more than 22% forecast that it will be very difficult and only 7% were optimistic about the picture of the seafood industry in the coming time.

What is the direction for 2023?

To overcome difficulties, most seafood processors and exporters believed that it is necessary to apply modern technology, save energy and effectively manage inventories. Up to 87% of seafood companies are aware of technological investment for sustainable development but they cannot afford it. Only 13% of companies are ready to invest immediately.

Dr. Ho Quoc Luc, Chairman of the Board of irectors of Sao Ta Food Joint Stock Company, recommended that seafood companies need to focus on negotiating with customers to find ways to minimize difficulties and damage and share with each other in the coming time. Then, they should review their strengths and weaknesses to find a direction for the future.

Source: Vietnam Business Forum