Vietnam’s Frozen Octopus and Squid Exports decrease by 13% in 2023

Frozen octopus

Vietnam’s seafood export landscape witnessed a significant turn in 2023, particularly in the domain of frozen octopus and squid, marking a 13% decrease in export value, amounting to 660 million US dollars. This downturn spans both squid, with a 14% reduction to 365 million US dollars, and octopus exports, experiencing a 12% decrease to 295 million US dollars. The decline in export value varies across product types, with dried, roasted, or frozen squid products facing less reduction compared to their processed counterparts.

South Korea is the Leading Importer

South Korea continues to dominate Vietnam’s primary market for frozen octopus, representing 37% of Vietnam’s export portfolio in this category. Despite the overall downturn, South Korea showcased a relative uptick in demand for Vietnamese frozen octopus and squid, culminating in an export value of 247 million US dollars, reflecting an 8% year-on-year decrease. This trend suggests a strategic pivot by South Korea towards Vietnamese seafood, possibly due to a decrease in imports from traditional suppliers like Japan and China, reaffirming Vietnam’s significant role in catering to South Korea’s seafood appetite.

Challenges in the Japanese Market

Japan stands as the second-largest importer of Vietnamese frozen octopus and squid, accounting for 23% of Vietnam’s exports. However, the market faced hurdles towards the end of 2023, registering a significant export value decline to 152 million US dollars, which translates to an 11% decrease compared to the previous year. This downturn underscores potential market and logistic challenges affecting Vietnam’s ability to sustain its export momentum to Japan.

Growth Prospects in China

Contrary to the general declining trend, Vietnam observed a promising market response from China, with exports reaching 77 million US dollars, marking a 6% decrease year-on-year. From August 2023, Vietnam saw an encouraging growth trajectory in its exports of frozen octopus and squid to China. This upward trend can be attributed to China’s ban on Japanese seafood imports following the discharge of nuclear wastewater by Japan, prompting Chinese importers to seek alternative sources, including Vietnam. Additionally, the year-end surge in demand for frozen octopus and squid within China contributed to this positive shift, showcasing a potential market recovery and opportunity for Vietnamese seafood exporters.

Strategic Implications for Vietnamese Seafood Exporters

The varied market dynamics across South Korea, Japan, and China underscore the complex landscape Vietnamese exporters navigate. The shift in import preferences and the geopolitical implications of Japan’s environmental policies highlight the need for strategic diversification and market sensitivity. For Vietnamese exporters, understanding these fluctuations and adapting to the evolving demands of major importers can pave the way for recuperating from the 2023 downturn and potentially capitalizing on emerging opportunities, particularly in markets showing signs of increased demand like China.

2023 posed significant challenges for Vietnam’s exports of frozen octopus and squid. Despite the downturn, nuanced market dynamics across major importing countries indicate potential pathways for recovery and growth. For Vietnam, leveraging these insights and adapting to the changing tides of international seafood trade could hold the key to reversing the current trend and driving future export success.

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