Vietnam’s mollusc exports reached 125,000 tonnes, earning US$489 million and accounting for 9.7 percent of the seafood exports in 2010, says the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP).
Of the total, 100,000 tonnes of unprocessed products earned as much as US$400 million or 82 percent of the total value.
The country now has 442 businesses involved in mollusc exports to 80 markets over the world, an increase of 7 markets compared to 2009.
In late 2010 and early 2011, besides the EU and the US, Vietnamese businesses also exported mollusc to the Middle East, a new potential market.
However, says VASEP, there are still challenges for mollusc exporters such as technical barriers and strict requirements for food safety and hygiene. In addition to the application of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP), a process control system that identifies where hazards might occur in the food production and ISO22000, a standard dealing with food safety, Vietnamese products exported to the EU market have to meet the technical requirements developed by the British Retail Consortium.
The shortage of materials is another problem facing the sector. Especially the mass death of clams in the Mekong Delta provinces in 2010 brought heavy pressure to bear upon mollusc processing businesses. Meanwhile, quarantine regulations have created difficulties for them to import materials.
Input shortages lead to the improper breeding of mollusc which is far from meeting the domestic demand. Therefore, mollusc production still depends on the whim of nature.
On the request of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, to diversify Vietnam’s seafood products, there are plans afoot to boost mollusc exports in a sustainable manner.