HANOI, Sept 10 Asia Pulse – Unilever Vietnam is expanding exports of “nuoc mam” (fish sauce) produced in Phu Quoc Island, to the sought-after markets of the US and Canada.
With its long coastline, Vietnam boasts many fish sauce producers but Phu Quoc, off the south-western province of Kien Giang, is the most famous. Made from the long-jawed anchovy caught in the tropical waters surrounding the island, the sauce has a delicate flavour and high levels of protein.
Islanders use only fresh black anchovies, natural ingredients and traditional storage methods unchanged for centuries to make top-grade fish sauce said Nguyen Thi Tinh, Chairwoman of the Phu Quoc Fish Sauce Association, To get a certificate of origin (C/O) the Phu Quoc fish sauce must be made and bottled on the island and local producers have to follow all production processes as regulated by the fisheries sector.
But the brand name could be threatened by a shortage of raw materials, the association has warned. Annually, islanders need 200,000-250,000 tonnes of anchovies to produce 10 million litres of fish sauce. However, now they can only buy 70 per cent of the volume needed due to shortages caused by uncontrolled fishing.
To ensure sustainable development of the traditional fish sauce industry, Tinh said the fisheries sector and producers must join forces to protect anchovies and build up professional production methods. One positive step towards would be the establishment of the Phu Quoc Sea Reserve, she added.
Phu Quoc fish sauce is very popular among Vietnamese who consume around 200 million litres each year as a sauce, and has become a popular souvenir for tourists to the beautiful island. Unilever Vietnam annually sells six million litres out of 12 million litres of fish sauce with the Phu Quoc trademark to domestic and foreign markets. The speciality has great export potential, said Greg Sullivan Vice President of Unilever Vietnam, adding that his company has recently put its Knorr-branded fish sauce made with 100 per cent natural materials on the market.
The Phu Quoc fish sauce is one of two Vietnamese products granted a C/O in May 2005, the other is Shan Tuyet Moc Chau tea.