Which country will Vietnam sell $6 million worth of ‘specialty’ products after Brazil halts imports?

This particular product has been notified by the partner to be discontinued due to a microbiological issue. Last year, this country imported a batch of 25 tons from Vietnam.


On February 20th, NAFIQPM (the Quality, Processing, and Market Development Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development) issued a notification about Brazil’s decision to temporarily suspend the import of tilapia fish from Vietnam.

The department received a letter on February 14th, 2024, from the Plant Quarantine Inspection Authority of the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAPA) announcing the suspension of tilapia fish imports from Vietnam starting from February 14th, 2024, until the conclusion of a risk assessment regarding the tilapia lake virus (TiLV) based on Decision No. 270 dated February 9th, 2024, issued by MAPA.

The Quality, Processing, and Market Development Department requested Vietnamese seafood processing establishments on the export list to Brazil to stop exporting tilapia fish to the Brazilian market in accordance with the requirements of the Plant Quarantine Inspection Authority of the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAPA) starting from February 14th, 2024.

Additionally, seafood processing establishments on the export list to Brazil are advised to actively update, research, and comply with the regulations during the production and processing of seafood and seafood products for export to the Brazilian market.

Prior to this, according to Reuters, the Brazilian government stated that the ban on tilapia fish imports from Vietnam would remain in effect until the completion of the health review process.

Vietnam is the only country that supplies tilapia fish to Brazil since 2023, the Ministry of Agriculture told Reuters in a separate statement.

The ministry said that Brazil had imported 25 tons of tilapia fish from Vietnam, with a trade value of $118,000.

The Brazilian market is not a significant market for the export of tilapia fish from Vietnam. Illustrative image.

Tilapia fish exports to shift focus to Japan, Europe

According to Tuoi Tre, the suspension of tilapia fish imports to Brazil has affected the seafood export activities of businesses.

Thai Anh Tuan, a seafood exporter based in Ho Chi Minh City (mainly tilapia and catfish), suggested the need to shift the market focus.

Tuan shared: “Tilapia fish is a fast-growing farmed species with increasing production. China and Taiwan are the top producers in the world.”

“Our tilapia fish export volume is low but has recently shown good growth. Therefore, if the Brazilian market stops, we will target markets like Japan, Belgium, Italy, and the UK,” Tuan added.

Meanwhile, Le Hang, the spokesperson of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), responded to Dan Viet Online that the export volume of tilapia fish from Vietnam to Brazil is limited.

However, according to Hang, this could also be a protective measure for the domestic tilapia fish industry from the importing country and a way to threaten other seafood products from Vietnam.

Currently, Vietnam exports seafood to Brazil with a value of nearly $100 million per year, mostly catfish, accounting for over 99%.

The Brazilian market is not a major consumer market for Vietnamese tilapia fish. Therefore, the decision to suspend tilapia fish imports from Vietnam by Brazil will not significantly affect Vietnamese seafood exporters,” Hang stated.

According to VASEP, Vietnam’s tilapia fish exports in 2023 reached over $6 million to various markets, a 42% decrease compared to 2022.

In the fourth quarter of 2023, the market recorded the highest value with three consecutive months of positive growth after nine consecutive months of decline. Among them, the EU market consumed over $2 million, continuing to be the largest tilapia fish consumer market for Vietnam.

Following the EU, the U.S. consumed nearly $1 million in 2023, a 71% decrease compared to 2022. Frozen tilapia fish is favored by consumers in the U.S.

China is the world’s largest tilapia fish supplier and also the largest supplier to the U.S.

Vietnamese tilapia fish faces challenges in competing with Chinese tilapia fish because Vietnam’s average price is much higher, despite a decreasing trend.

Previously, agricultural news website Notícias Agrícolas (Brazil) stated that the tilapia fish imports from Vietnam in December last year had caused development problems in Brazil’s aquaculture chain.

The Brazilian Fisheries Industry Association (Abipesca) submitted a dossier to the Brazilian Ministry of Development, Industry, Commerce, and Services (MDIC) on January 17th, questioning the import of 25 tons of frozen tilapia fish from Vietnam.

In the letter to MDIC Minister Geraldo Alckmin, the association requested the application of anti-dumping measures to protect the domestic seafood industry from unfair competition from Asian fish.

Why did the American continent country cease importing Vietnam’s “specialty” worth $6 million?

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