Tightened controls on antibiotic residues for shrimp industry
The shrimp industry earned US$3.8 billion in export revenue in 2017 and is striving to reach a revenue target of US$8-10 billion by 2025 as laid out by the Government.
The realization of this objective will require a concerted effort by government agencies, businesses, and farmers to confront the issue of antibiotic residues and impurities, stresses Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong.
An increase is projected in the volume of shrimp exports in 2018 amid a drop in prices over 2017 and the emergence of tougher competition from export markets such as India, Thailand, Indonesia, and Ecuador. Turnover in seafood exports is expected to climb by 4% to US$8.5 ‚Äď 8.6 billion this year.
Shrimp sector a large factor in total seafood exports
In 2017, aquaculture exports reached a value of US$8.3 billion, an increase of 18% on the previous year. Accounting for 46%, shrimp exports represent a substantial proportion of the total, rising by 21%to bring turnover to US$3.8 billion. Shrimp is considered a key product in the development of Vietnam`s seafood exports over the next decade, occupying up to 46%-75% of the country`s total aquatic export turnover.
To fulfill the US$8.5 billion export target for this year toward higher value in the following years, the fisheries sector, especially the shrimp industry will require the support and cooperation ofthe Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), the Directorate of Fisheries, and parties concerned to deal with important and urgent issues, especially those relating to antibiotic residues and impurities in shrimp.
‚ÄúRegulation on antibiotic levels and impurities in shrimp is a thorny issue which needs to be resolved fully and immediately‚ÄĚ, Mr Cuong emphasizes. According to Truong Dinh Hoe, General Secretary of Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), apart from having the advantage of modern processing technologies, high value-added products, large-scale eco-shrimp farming areas, and huge investments from private businesses, the shrimp industry has faced setbacks concerning residual antibiotics and impurities in shrimp thus negatively impacting shrimp production and exports.
Ensuring shrimp are free from antibiotics and impurities
In efforts to curtail antibiotic residues and impurities, the business community has intensified their oversight, leading to higher prices and production costs, and eroding customer confidence.
The shrimp sector`s business community has prioritized tackling the issue of residual antibiotics and impurities in shrimp with a view to expanding shrimp exports to foreign markets in the future.
Last year, the EU outstripped the US to become the world`s leading importer of Vietnamese shrimp with a turnover of US$867 million, up 45% thanks to growing demand and their higher competitive capacity than India, Vietnam`s main rival in the EU market.
The EU market has reduced its shrimp imports from India as 50% of its shrimp shipments are carefully inspected at border areas and it is highly probable that the EU will issue a ban on the import of India`s shrimp products as a result of concerns over residual antibiotics
Meanwhile, Vietnam`s shrimp exports to the Australian market fell by nearly 5% to US$182 million due to the restrictions on imports of raw shrimp products rolled out in January 2017, and on uncooked prawns in June 2017.
Although the ban has been lifted as of July 6, 2017, Australian imports of uncooked shrimp remain modest. While the Australian Government has recently loosened restrictions to allow the import of shrimp products, it has also has imposed stricter regulations and conditions on imported shrimp.
According to VASEP, issues surrounding antibiotics and impurities found in shrimp have dealt a strong blow to income from shrimp exports. In an effort to improve the profile of Vietnam`s shrimp industry in the eyes of international consumers and ensure sustainable development for the industry, VASEP advised the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to consider establishing a program to control residual antibiotics and impurities in shrimp production and farming.