Battling alternative facts impacting the panga industry
As part of a PR campaign to restore confidence in pangasius in the European market, a press conference and meet-up of pangasius stakeholders was held at the Seafood Expo Global in Brussels on April 25. The event was an initiative of VASEP, the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers and the Directorate of Fisheries from the Vietnamese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. The meeting was facilitated by Alfons van Duijvenbode from Globally and generated valuable updates on recent developments in the supply chain, new facts and figures and a clear commitment for collaborative stakeholders efforts to grow together in international markets.
A world-wide popular fish under attack
The event comes at a time where Pangasius continues to be a battled fish in the European market. It is sad to notice that alternative facts continue to be published. Over the last few months, a documentary broadcasted in Spain and the decision of Carrefour to stop selling panga created turmoil once again and led to a dramatic fall in pangasius sales. Some importers reported drops of up to 75% in the Spanish market.
How can it be that an industry that is among the most tightly controlled fish industries in the world continues to be hit by negative press? An industry that exports one of the most popular seafood products in the world to more than 160 countries.
One of the most strictly regulated fish industries in the world
All exporting pangasius companies must comply with strict international food safety regulations. In fact their quality management and food safety management systems are no different than those of their European or American counterparts. They comply with the same standards. Together with the food inspection services at ports of entry in the European market, these systems guarantee that pangasius that arrives in the European market is completely safe for human consumption. Some experts even claim it may be the most strictly regulated fish industries in the world.
Do you plan to consume 167 kg per day?
This has been confirmed by scientific research by a team from Wageningen University. The research, that was published in ‘Reviews in Aquaculture’ in 2016, demonstrates that the fish is completely safe to eat and that stories about the fish being toxic are complete rubbish. For example, people would need to consume absurd amounts of panga of up to 167 kg per day, everyday for the rest of their lives before any health risk from certain pesticide residues might occur.
The world needs panga, a responsible choice
On top of that, the top 20 pangasius exporters to the European market, that account for 80% of the export value, all have integrated production with farms that are all ASC certified. This clearly demonstrates their responsible farming with care for the environment, the workers and local communities. And let’s face it, the world can not do without sustainable aquaculture. It’s a fact that farmed raised fish have a lower environmental impact compared to land-raised animals. As a comparison, for 1 kg of pangasius, you only need 2,000 liters of water, while 1 kg of beef requires more than 15,000 liters.
A beautiful fish for a tasty dish
The message of the panga stakeholders was clear: Let’s stop bashing the panga. It is a popular export product worldwide, and for a reason. It is a healthy fish, completely safe for human consumption and responsibly produced with a low environmental footprint. The Vietnamese panga industry clearly spoke out it is determined to confront the unfair reports and collaborate together with its international distribution partners in the international markets to grow together. Collaborative promotion efforts will be stepped up to make sure the right message gets to the end consumer. Don’t worry, panga is a beautiful fish that makes a tasty dish. Pangasius…. Your everyday fish!
Reports about the press conference and stakeholder meet-up:
Alfons van Duijvenbode