Vietnamese fish sauce industry seeks ways to expand abroad

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The Vietnamese fish sauce industry needs to improve food hygiene and safety and diversify products to expand exports.

According to Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Phùng Đức Tiến, just a modest amount of fish sauce was exported, around 12.6 per cent of the country’s total output per year, mainly to the Asian market (54 per cent), the Australian market (18 per cent) and African and European markets (13 per cent each), last year.

There are 17 production establishments currently exporting fish sauce.

Tiến said there was significant room for Việt Nam to promote the export of fish sauce, given the country’s favourable natural condition and a wealth of experience in production.

According to the Agro Processing and Market Development Authority, there are more than 4,200 fish sauce production establishments across the country, with an average output of around 380 million litres.

The export of fish sauce would not only open the door to advertising Vietnamese culture and cuisine to the international market but also bring benefits to the country, Deputy Director of the Agro Processing and Market Development Lê Thanh Hoà, said.

In recent years, the fish sauce industry enhanced the application of science and technology in production to improve food hygiene and safety and meet the requirements of international markets, he said. With a modest share, there was a large potential to promote exports.

Hoà pointed out that the biggest barrier to export expansion was food hygiene and safety, stressing that focus must be placed on meeting the safety requirements of export markets together with strengthening market research on tastes and diversifying fish sauce types with full origin traceability records.

In addition, it was necessary to build a national brand for Vietnamese fish sauce, he said.

To improve fish sauce quality, Hoà said that fleets of specialised fishing boats should be developed to ensure the quality of fish for sauce processing.

According to Lưu Duẩn from the Việt Nam Cuisine Culture Association, the cooperation between the Government agencies and producers promotes the development of the fish sauce industry.

Producers needed support to change the technologies and apply the quality management systems such as hazard analysis and risk-based preventive controls, hazard analysis and critical control points and ISO 22000 to meet the requirements of the US, Australian and European markets.

According to Tiến, the fish sauce industry needs to ensure the source of raw materials in both quantity and quality to develop sustainably.

To achieve this, production infrastructure and facilities must be upgraded with the application of quality control systems, Tiến said.

He said more attention should be paid to packaging, labelling and environmental protection.

Inspection to prevent the abuse of chemicals and additives in fish sauce production must be enhanced.

An important measure was also to restore and promote long-standing traditional villages for fish sauce processing and build geographical indications and brands for fish sauce products, Tiến said, adding that policies must be raised to ensure sustainable seafood exploitation and develop a sustainable value chain for the industry.

Việt Nam earned US$28.53 million from exporting fish sauce in 2021. — VNS