Iceland Seafood driven into the red by consumers’ declining purchasing power

ISI CEO Ægir Páll Friðbertsson.

Iceland Seafood International’s (ISI) total sales for the first nine months of 2023 increased slightly year over year to EUR 318.1 million (USD 347.4 million), but the company experienced a significant slowdown in this year’s third quarter, when its sales slipped 12 percent year over year to EUR 95.8 million (USD 104.6 million).

The Reykjavik, Iceland-based seafood firm underwent a change in leadership in September 2023, with ISI CEO Bjarni Ármannsson stepping down after five years in the position and replaced by Brim Chief Operating Officer Ægir Páll Friðbertsson.

High inflation and increased interest rates have negatively affected customer purchasing power and demand, Friðbertsson said during the company’s Q3 2023 results presentation. Consequently, prices of whitefish and shellfish have come down in recent months, leading to lower margins, especially in the company’s value-added Southern Europe (VA S-Europe) division. Sales for VA S-Europe in the first nine months of 2023 totaled EUR 158.2 million (USD 172.8 million) – down 3 percent from last year, with the division’s Q3 sales declining 18 percent.

Friðbertsson confirmed that declining consumer purchasing power in the group’s main trading countries, together with ongoing uncertainty due to current geopolitical turmoil and unusually warm weather during the summer led to lower Q3 sales. Increases in interest rates have also brought rising capital costs, and the lower price of whitefish and shellfish has led to inventory write-offs and a lower margin on product sales.

“Price adjustments are taking place which are painful in the short term but create a basis for healthier long-term demand,” he said.

Friðbertsson said with “great uncertainty” in global economic affairs ISI’s short-term focus will be on improving

Photo courtesy of ISI

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