After two years of decline, Norway’s seafood exports achieved strong value growth in 2013 and the country is anticipating more of the same in the coming years and decades, according to Elisabeth Aspaker, Norwegian Minister of Fisheries.

Speaking at a Norwegian Seafood Summit in London last week, Aspaker said the country has the potential to achieve an export value of GBP 60 billion (USD 99.6 billion, EUR 72.6 billion) or NOK 611 billion (at the current rate of exchange) by 2060, which would be 10 times greater than its new record total.

The minister said this huge increase isn’t simply about catching more fish; rather, it’s making better use of marine resources. She said Norway is “only at the start when it comes to value creation from the ocean,” and that the country’s seafood industry has plenty of scope for increased value creation.

“In order to realize the potential of these marine resources, research institutions and the seafood industry must work together. A combination of experience, expertise and technological solutions will give us the ideas and the knowledge for the days to come,” said Aspaker.

The challenge is a global one, she stressed.

“Today, most of the food we eat comes from agriculture but we need alternatives. At the same time we know that the world’s population is growing rapidly. In 2050, the Earth will be inhabited by 9 billion people. According to the U.K. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), this means the current food production must increase by 70 percent. So far, we have only used a relatively small share of the marine resources for food production.

“Along with freshwater and land resources, the ocean must play a bigger role in providing enough food for energy for a growing world population.”

Norwegian seafood exports achieved a record value of NOK 61 billion (USD 9.9 billion, EUR 7.2 billion) in 2013, representing a 17 percent increase on the previous year and eclipsing the previous record value of NOK 53.8 billion (USD 8.8 billion, EUR 6.4 billion) set in 2010 by 13 percent.

A lot of this success is down to the strong market for Norwegian farmed salmon in 2013, said Jack-Robert Moller, U.K. director of the Norwegian Seafood Council (NSC). He told the summit that salmon exports achieved a value of NOK 39.8 billion (USD 6.5 billion, EUR 4.7 billion) last year, and that there had been large export growth trends in both the EU and Asia.

“Compared with 2012, the [salmon] price was more than one-third higher. In the two weeks before Christmas it was over NOK 50 (USD 8.14, EUR 5.93) per kilogram (kg) and today the price still remains strong,” said Moller.

According to the NSC, the average price for fresh whole Norwegian salmon in 2013 was NOK 39.74 (USD 6.47, EUR 4.71) per kg.
Norway’s export value turnaround was also thanks to record exports of cod in 2013. The country exported 231,000 metric tons (MT) of cod products last year, which is an increase of 63,000 MT compared with 2012.

By the end of last year, Norway had exported 56 percent more fresh cod than in 2012 and the value of these exports was 19 percent higher.

Moller acknowledged that large decreases in cod prices — of up to 20 percent — had put fishermen in a “challenging situation,” but said the country’s whitefish sector was “now in a stronger position for the future.”

He added that the value of the country’s pelagic and shellfish exports dropped by 18 percent and 42 percent, respectively, but that these declines were largely attributable to greatly reduced catch quotas.

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