US frozen pangasius (catfish) fillet imports experienced their first YoY decline in 10 months this August, with a total volume of 10 thousand mt, down 16% compared to the imported volume in August 2021.
This contrasts with strong YoY increases through most of 2022, which had indicated renewed demand after pandemic restrictions eased this year. However, this decline is in line with the trend of several other seafood product imports in the US, such as frozen shrimp, which reflect current oversupply and slower demand due to inflationary pressures.
Source: Tridge and USDA
In 2021, the US was the largest importer of frozen pangasius fillets in the world, representing one third of the global import value of $1.18 billion.
From January through August 2022, US imports of frozen pangasius (catfish) fillets totaled 101 thousand mt, up by 26% YoY. Import volume was 44% above the 5-year average for the first eight months of the year.
In terms of value, US imports of this product totaled $429 million, up by 93% YoY. Compared to the 5-year average, imports were up 75% YoY.
The larger increase in import value than in volume was caused by higher prices so far in 2022 compared to the previous year. In January-August 2022, prices averaged $4.20/kg, up by 52% compared to the Jan-Aug 2021 average.
The gap between 2022 and 2021 prices remains considerably wide. As of August 2022, prices were up 46% YoY.
Source: Tridge and USDA
Vietnam remains by far the largest exporter of frozen pangasius fillets to the US, representing 95% of total US imports in January-August 2022. China was the only other exporter of this product to the US, representing 5% of total US imports in January-August 2022.
Vietnam's global pangasius exports from January through September soared, but now started showing signs of weakness. From January through September 2022, Vietnam has exported almost $2 billion of pangasius products (with the bulk of it in frozen fillet form), which represents an increase of 83% YoY. In September 2022, Vietnam's pangasius exports totaled $164 million, up by 100% YoY. However, according to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), September's high YoY increase reflects an abnormally low base in September 2021 due to pandemic restrictions. In addition, September 2022'S exports declined 15% MoM, when September is typically the peak demand month.
In 2021, Vietnam was the world's largest exporter of frozen pangasius fillets, with exports totaling $1.09 billion.