(vasep.com.vn) In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic spread out all over the world that had a tremendous impact on the world tuna industry in general and the Vietnamese tuna industry in particular. Despite the difficulties, Vietnamese tuna processing and exporting enterprises have still been making efforts to overcome drawbacks.
Looking back at tuna exports in 2020
According to statistics of Vietnam Customs, in the first 11 months of 2020, Vietnam's tuna exports reached nearly 600 million USD, down 11% compared to the same period in 2019. In 2020, international markets had to suspend the trade activities in response to the pandemics. In some places, they applied the shutdown measures on restaurants, cafeterias, and crowded places. This has resulted in a decrease in consumption of tuna, especially fresh and frozen tuna products, in markets, the demand for long-preserved foods such as canned tuna in some markets roared.
This has a great impact on Vietnam's tuna exports. Vietnam's exports of fresh and frozen tuna contracted by 26% compared to the same period in 2019. Meanwhile, exports of processed and canned tuna products rose by 9%. This growth was mainly due to the growth in the export of canned tuna products.
Currently, Vietnamese tuna products have been exported to 106 markets around the world. Due to the impact of Covid-19, Vietnam's tuna exports to most major markets fell over the same period.
The US, EU, ASEAN, and Japan continued to be the four largest tuna importers of Vietnam. Tuna exports to the US and Southeast Asia tended to decrease over the same period in 2019 while exports to the EU and Japan climbed slightly over the same period. Notably, Vietnam's tuna exports to the EU after a period of negative growth have reversed thanks to the impact of the Free Trade Agreement between the European Union and Vietnam (EVFTA).
Besides, tuna exports to some other export markets have been showing positive growth, namely, Egypt and the Middle East. However, governments of the countries have taken measures to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic such as issuing a curfew at night, banning crowded gatherings, closing restaurants, leading to economic problems severely affected, the demand for food decreased. Moreover, Egypt has the policy to reduce imports and increase exports to narrow the trade deficit. There was a time when the Industry Committee of the Egyptian Parliament called for the government to suspend the import of frozen fish due to concerns about possible transmission of the coronavirus in this product.
In addition, the slow consumption in the market recently forced them to cut many new orders while the payback period was prolonged. This has made Vietnam's tuna exports to this market unstable and tended to slow down at the end of the year.
Market trends in 2021
At present, the disease situation of Covid-19 in the markets has not been controlled, moreover, there has been a risk of a rebound, so it is expected that the world tuna market cannot recover.
In the US market, the growth in re-importing Chinese cheap canned tuna products into the US is contributing to the competition in this market segment. Moreover, the demand for sustainable tuna products in the US has been tended to increase. Many major importers like Walmart, Bumble Bee, or Chicken of the Sea have made moves towards finding sustainable sources of tuna, such as making a commitment to supply 100% of Chunk light products certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)… This is expected to reduce the need to import conventional tuna products…
In the EU market, EVFTA will continue to be a driver for Vietnam's exports of tuna products, such as canned tuna, fresh and frozen tuna, to the EU market in 2021. However, frozen steamed tuna loin products (HS16), one of the key export products of Vietnam in the first months of the year, is expected to decline. Because these products from Vietnam to the EU have enjoyed tariff preferences as agreed in EVFTA, they are not exempt from tax to 0% according to the autonomous tariff rate quota (ATQ) when exporting to the EU. Meanwhile, in 2021, the EU Parliament increased the import quota for this product group according to the ATQ to 35,000 MT, which makes China's tuna export businesses benefit. Competition in this segment of the EU is expected to increase.