Best August on record for Norwegian seafood exporters

Published on
September 7, 2021
A seafood market located in Bergen, Norway

Norwegian seafood exports reached all-time highs in August, with records set for multiple different species in terms of value and volume.

Overseas markets imported NOK 9.6 billion (USD 1.1 billion, EUR 932.9 million) worth of Norwegian seafood last month, an increase of 32 percent, or NOK 2.3 billion (USD 265.6 million, EUR 223.5 million), on August 2020 with new records set in the salmon, mackerel, and king crab trades.

Norway’s seafood exports have never achieved a higher value in the month of August, with the gradual reopening of global markets having a positive effect, Norwegian Seafood Council (NSC) CEO Renate Larsen said.

“August salmon exports are the best ever. This is due to high volumes of production and strong demand as more hotels and restaurants have opened up in many international markets,” Larsen said. “For mackerel, the strong result is primarily due to a record-breaking start to the fishing season.”

The Scandinavian country’s seafood exports for the first eight months of the year totaled NOK 72.9 billion (USD 8.4 billion, EUR 7.1 billion), some 7 percent higher than the same period of 2020, and NOK 5.4 billion (USD 623.6 million, EUR 524.7 million) ahead of the corresponding pre-pandemic period in 2019.

Last month’s salmon exports increased in volume by 21 percent to 113,900 metric tons (MT), worth NOK 7 billion (USD 808.3 million, EUR 680.2 million) – up 33 percent compared to August 2020 – with Poland, Denmark, and France offering the largest markets.

Poland was also the largest growth market for salmon. NSC Analyst Paul Aandahl said there was sustained high demand for processed products, such as smoked salmon and pre-packaged salmon portions for sale in retail, in markets like Germany, France, and Italy.

“This means that sales of salmon as a raw material to the processing industry are increasing,” Aandahl said.

Also in the salmonid sector, Norway exported 6,400 MT of trout worth NOK 404 million (USD 46.6 million, EUR 39.3 million) last month, with the volume falling 6 percent and the value climbing 25 percent. Belarus, the U.S., and Ukraine provided the largest trout markets.

From its whitefish sector, Norway exported 2,500 MT of fresh cod in August, earning NOK 94 million (USD 10.9 million, EUR 9.1 million), up 16 percent and 10 percent respectively, with Denmark, Sweden and Germany offering the main markets.

At the same time, 3,500 MT of frozen cod, worth NOK 142 million (USD 16.4 million, EUR 13.8 million) was exported, down 1 percent in volume, while the value was on par with August 2020. China, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands were the product’s top markets.

Norway’s pelagic sector exported 11,300 MT of herring in August 2021, valued at NOK 143 million (USD 16.4 million, EUR 13.8 million), with the volume down 2 percent on August last year and the value decreasing by 12 percent. At the same time, 32,800 MT of mackerel worth NOK 463 million (USD 53.4 million, EUR 45 million) was sold, up a massive 506 percent and 390 percent, respectively.

Poland, Spain, and Ukraine offered the largest markets for Norwegian herring in August, while China, Egypt, and the Netherlands were the main markets for the country’s mackerel.

“This year has been a record-breaking start to the [mackerel] season. In the last three weeks, the Norwegian fleet has made an outstanding effort, and 147,000 MT of mackerel was landed in August. The previous record was 34,000 MT, dating back to 2002,” NSC Manager for Pelagic Species Jan Eirik Johnsen said.

In regard to its crab trade, Norway exported 349 MT of king crab in August, worth NOK 155 million (USD 17.9 million, EUR 15.1 million), representing a volume increase of 1 percent and a value rise of 43 percent. South Korea, Hong Kong, and the U.S. were its largest markets.

“Never before has the export value of king crab for a single month been higher than in August this year. This is due to continued high demand and good prices for both live and frozen king crab for our most important markets in Asia and North America,” NSC Manager for Shellfish Josefine Voraa said.

According to NSC’s analysis, Hong Kong was the largest growth market for live red king crab in August, with an increase of NOK 40 million (USD 4.6 million, EUR 3.9 million), or 632 percent.

"Challenging logistics to the Chinese mainland meant that larger volumes of live king crab were exported directly to the Hong Kong SAR," Voraa said.

Live king crab accounted for 80 percent of the trade’s export volume and value in August.

Meanwhile, with Norwegian vessels fishing their entire quota by July, Norway’s snow crab exports in August totaled 33 MT, with a value of NOK 9 million (USD 1 million, EUR 874,407), with the volume and value falling 73 percent and 54 percent, respectively.

Norway’s shrimp trade also fell last month, with 939 MT of the crustaceans generating revenues of NOK 68 million (USD 7.9 million, EUR 6.6 million), down 5 percent and 13 percent respectively. Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Finland provided the largest markets for the product.

In 2020, Norway’s seafood exports totaled 2.7 million MT, worth NOK 105.7 billion (USD 12.2 billion, EUR 10.3 billion) – the second-highest annual trade value in the country’s history.  

Photo courtesy of joyfull/Shutterstock

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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