US pangasius imports surge amid rising demand for affordable proteins: Intrafish

In the first four months of the year, US imports of frozen pangasius fillets climbed 29 percent.

John Evans: Intrafish

Rising demand for less expensive proteins in the current inflationary period is helping fuel a sharp increase in US imports of frozen pangasius fillets, industry sources told IntraFish.
In the first four months of this year, US imports of frozen pangasius fillets climbed 29 percent compared with the same period last year to 29,687 metric tons, according to US government data.
Should imports continue at the current pace, they would end the year around 8 percent higher than 2023’s total of 82,470 metric tons.
“Pangasius is the cheapest white meat fish with good quality fit for everybody,” said Oanh Tuong, who works for seafood supplier Siam Canadian in its Vietnam office.
Import prices were trending lower during the first four months of the year. The average import price, according to US government statistics, was $2.55 (€2.37) per kilo in January, nearly 20 percent less than the average price of $3.16 (€2.94) in January 2023.
Vietnam is the largest exporter of pangasius to the US market.
Dave Loos, CEO at pangasius supplier Western Edge Seafood in Pennsylvania, agrees, citing a range of possible factors for higher imports.

“We are in an inflation time so the disposable income is less,” Loos said.

US buyers may have been encouraged to take positions after being warned of higher feed and freight costs by suppliers in Vietnam, Loos said.

The cost of other proteins, also subject to higher freight charges and raw material prices, may also be weighing in favor of pangasius, in his view.

Pangasius continues to represent one of the more value priced species for any fish in the market, said Maritime Products International President Matt Fass.

“Where value seems particularly important with food and our economy, there has likely been some increased activity across the spectrum of foodservice and retail looking at ways to use more pangasius.”

While pangasius still does not have the name recognition that other fish such as tilapia have with US consumers, it is a better “value” fish just based on current market comparisons, the executive noted.

“And there is wider range of product that can generally be produced related to pangasius in terms of size and cuts as well as some creative, value-added product development, Fass said.

After a long period of stubbornly high inventories, importers, because of economic factors such as inflation, are reluctant to hold huge stocks.

Instead, they prefer to keep inventories and purchasing on a tight leash, buying small quantities regularly and undertaking large tenders on long-term contracts, Tuong said.


Siam Canadian Group Frozen Seafood Exporters 

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