In past ten decades Vietnam’s pangasius industry has grown by leaps and bounds with totaling less than 35,000 metric tons in 2003, the country’s pangasius exports now exceed 600,000 metric tons annually, nearing 660,000 metric tons in 2010. Roughly three-quarters of pangasius exports go to the EU market, while about 12 percent end up in the U.S. market.
Imparting correct education about pangasius could boost the growth of the industry even faster. The Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) is trying to do something about it. In this connection along with Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade and Vietnam’s Embassy in the EU, VASEP hosted a seminar gathering various stakeholders.
The seminar was held at the European Seafood Exposition in Brussels, Belgium last week and was designed to ignite a dialog about pangasius, part of a larger effort by VASEP to heighten awareness of the product and increase transparency of the industry. During his 30-minute presentation, Nguyen Huu Dzung, standing vice chairman of VASEP, listed the steps that the pangasius industry has taken over the past 10 years to ensure sustainability, including its most recently accomplishment.
After the seminar there was a cooperation agreement was officially signed between Vietnam and GlobalGAP. Known as VietGAP, the voluntary program supports responsible pangasius farming through a set of certification standards. Eric Poudelelt, director of food safety for the European Commission’s Directorate-General of Health and Consumers (DG SANCO), said that it is easy to destroy an industry’s reputation. It takes 15 minutes of a documentary, and it’s finished for the next 15 years. That’s why it’s important for the industry to be transparent.
In addition to sustainability and hygiene/food safety, panelists also discussed how the seafood industry as a whole is benefitting from pangasius’ presence in the marketplace, because there’s a big demand for inexpensive, mild-tasting whitefish.