Moving the Pangasius up the White Fish Ladder

Mr. Jonathan Forrest Wilson, Executive Director, GODACO, Vietnam

Over more than 10 years, Vietnam’s production and export of pangasius has had challenges. The fish has come a long way, from cage grow-out to an international product farmed and processed under certified standards and modern processing techniques. Periodically, there is sensational media coverage purporting pangasius from Vietnam to be one of the most environmentally damaging fish. The industry in the early days did itself no favours through excessive glazing and STPP treatment for example. A trade dispute with the US Catfish Association also had some damaging market optics. Today, the industry has recognized the past issues and moved to address them. There are still improvements to be made in the cold chain, production, farming, processing, marketing and especially market image.

Today, the pangasius is a well-monitored fish. Through partnerships with government, global NGOs, academics and also producer-led initiatives, the pangasius can play a strong role in the world of the whitefish. Pangasius competes in the low-cost whitefish arena. Several integrated producers are trying to advance and drive value through further integration by moving up the value chain by coating and in some cases even cooking. So where is the future for pangasius?

Godaco Seafood JSC, a leading pangasius producer and processor went through all these phases. Its extended integration comes with its own set of challenges and opportunities. As Vietnam’s pangasius is a wonderful canvas to add a variety of flavours and coatings to please global tastes, we looked at how we can differentiate Vietnam’s pangasius and move up the white fish ladder. Can the pangasius challenge other whitefish traditionally used for value adding such as hoki, pollack and tilapia? This presentation will also briefly discuss how the Asian aquaculture sector has many opportunities for investment, whether M&A, joint ventures or private equity investment. There some key factors that make particular businesses and segments attractive.