The 2023 Downturn in Vietnamese Shellfish Exports


Vietnam’s esteemed shellfish industry, a cornerstone of its seafood export sector, faced significant hurdles in 2023. Notably marked by a 12% reduction in export value, amounting to 127 million US dollars, the sector witnessed fluctuations across its main products, including clams, conches, oysters, and scallops. This analysis delves into the multifaceted aspects underpinning this downturn, offering insights into market intricacies and prospective trends shaping the future of Vietnamese shellfish exports.

The Essence of Vietnamese Shellfish

Vietnamese shellfish, celebrated for their quality and diversity, range from clams and oysters to conches and scallops. Integral to both local and international gastronomy, these seafood products symbolize Vietnam’s rich aquatic bounty. However, 2023 has been a challenging year, demonstrating a notable decline in both the volume and value of exports. This shift prompts a deeper exploration into the specifics of the trade, market preferences, and the broader economic implications affecting the industry.

the Decline in Export Volume and Value

The export landscape for Vietnamese shellfish in 2023 underscores a complex array of factors influencing its downturn:

  • Clams: Dominating the export value at approximately 79 million US dollars, clams experienced a significant 17% decrease from 2022, primarily due to reduced exports to major markets like Spain and Italy. The competitive landscape, particularly from Chinese cold steamed clams in the US market, posed additional hurdles due to their more attractive pricing.
  • Oysters: Contrasting the overall trend, oysters marked a rapid growth rate of 56%, achieving an export value of over 14 million US dollars. The Taiwan market emerged as a primary consumer, showcasing a substantial 26% increase from the previous year.
  • Conches and Sea Snails: Despite a slight decrease of 6% in export value for conch products, standing nearly at 16 million US dollars, the diverse range of exported sea snails indicates a nuanced market appetite.

Market Dynamics and Future Outlook

2023 also witnessed a remarkable surge in Vietnamese shellfish exports to China and Cambodia, primarily driven by increasing demands for live clams. This shift towards live shellfish exports, offering higher prices and greater market demand, illuminates potential avenues for recovery and growth within the industry.

The evolving consumer preferences and economic conditions across Vietnam’s main export markets have undeniably impacted the shellfish trade. Price competition, especially amidst the anticipated recovery in bivalve mollusk demand in European markets, complicates the landscape, affecting the pricing and export strategies of Vietnamese producers.

Navigating Inflation and Changing Consumption Patterns

Inflationary pressures and the global economic outlook have significantly influenced consumer behaviors, potentially leading to a renewed demand for oysters and certain bivalves, while interest in other specialty shells may wane. The challenge for Vietnamese exporters lies in adapting to these shifting dynamics, focusing on market diversification, and enhancing the appeal of their shellfish offerings on the global stage.

The Resilience of Vietnamese Shellfish Exports

Despite the downturn in 2023, the Vietnamese shellfish industry exhibits potential for resilience and growth. By leveraging its strengths in quality and diversity, exploring untapped markets, and responding adeptly to global economic and consumer trends, Vietnam’s shellfish exports can navigate the challenges ahead. As the world’s palate for seafood continues to evolve, Vietnamese shellfish remains poised to satisfy the demand for exquisite, sustainably sourced delicacies.

  1. Why have Vietnamese shellfish exports declined in 2023?
    • A combination of market saturation, increased competition, and shifts in consumer demand and economic conditions have contributed to the decline.
  2. Which Vietnamese shellfish product showed growth in 2023?
    • Oysters displayed significant growth, particularly in exports to Taiwan, highlighting a silver lining amidst the overall downturn.
  3. How are global market dynamics affecting Vietnamese shellfish exports?
    • Inflation and economic sentiment influence consumer spending on luxury food items like shellfish, while competition from countries like China affects market share and pricing.

we continue to monitor the global seafood market, the adaptability and strategic pivoting of Vietnamese shellfish exporters will be key to overcoming current challenges and capitalizing on emerging opportunities, ensuring the enduring presence of Vietnamese shellfish on dinner tables worldwide.


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