There are nearly 100 seafood factories engaged in pangasius processing and export. This area has consolidated in recent years due to price pressures. As a consequence, the bulk part of exports is handled by large processors, the biggest being Vinh Hoan (17% of total sales volume in 2014), Agifish (11.3%) and Huong Vuong (10.6%). These companies have extensive experience in fish processing and ensure all necessary food safety and quality standards. Their processing capacities are high and can reach as much as 180 tonnes of fresh fish per day. All raw materials are inspected upon arrival and must be approved before continuing into the processing areas. For fillets, fish are washed, beheaded, gutted, filleted, skinned, trimmed, sized and classified, inspected for quality, frozen, and packaged for export. For whole fish, the process is shorter. Most processors also provide different value adding options. Off-cuts from the production such as the head, the tail or skins are processed into fish meal and fish oil.
Processing of Pangasius: screening of fillets (Photo: ekolibrium)
Processing of pangasius: screening of fillets (Photo: ekolibrium)
Many of the company groups involved have more than one factory. In some cases these operate as a group with one sourcing and marketing department, but in other cases individual factories have separate marketing and sourcing departments. Some factories have multiple EU approval numbers. This is mostly the case when there are multiple workshops on the same premises. Each workshop needs to get its own EU approval number. By numbers, the majority of processing companies are located in An Giang, Dong Thap, Can Tho and Tien Giang. There is also a large number of companies in Ho Chi Minh City, usually as part of a larger company that has different processing locations or is specialized in value adding.