Best-ever opening six months for Norwegian seafood exports

Norway overcame the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic to increase its seafood exports in 1H 2021.

Norway overcame the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and a strengthened krone to export a record NOK 53.7 billion (USD 6.3 billion, EUR 5.3 billion) worth of seafood in the first half of 2021, an increase of 1 percent, or NOK 646 million (USD 75.4 million, EUR 63.6 million) compared with the corresponding period of 2020.

According to Norwegian Minister of Fisheries and Seafood Odd Emil Ingebrigtsen the performance was “cause to be proud,” with a lot of hard work was behind the success.

“We have an adaptable industry with good people working at all levels. I have great faith that there will be even more opportunities for the sector when society reopens fully,” he said.

Norwegian Seafood Council CEO Renate Larsen said during the COVID-19 crisis, domestic seafood consumption had increased, and that the seafood sector would be further boosted when the restaurant trade reopens.

"In the markets that are reopening, we see strong growth in restaurant visits, at a significantly higher level than before the pandemic, making us optimistic about the future,” she said.

Larsen also pointed to a substantial increase in export earnings from South Korea, with seafood generating an extra NOK 358 million (USD 41.8 million, EUR 35.2 million) in the first half of the year, and increasing the trade with the country to a total value of NOK 1.9 billion (USD 221.9 million, EUR 187 million).

"South Korea is an exciting growth market and is embracing Norwegian seafood like never before. In the first half of 2021, several supermarket chains have run large national campaigns for Norwegian salmon and mackerel, contributing to a sharp growth in demand,” Larsen said. “The increase in seafood sales is from both traditional retail and online stores. In some grocery chains, online shopping of Norwegian mackerel accounts for up to 30 percent of turnover.”

Meanwhile, Norway’s largest value growth so far this year has been in the crustacean product category – up NOK 698 million (USD 81.5 million, EUR 68.7 million) year-on-year to NOK 1.7 billion (USD 198.5 million, EUR 167.3 million). 

“June was the best single month ever for Norwegian shellfish, marking a solid end to the best half-year run ever. Snow crab and king crab have seen outstanding value growth, but also smaller categories such as crayfish and brown crab have broken all previous records for the first half of the year,” Larsen said.

On the flip side, some species and categories have faced demanding market conditions. Cod experienced the most significant decline in export value in the first half of the year – falling 8 percent, or NOK 441 million (USD 51.5 million, EUR 43.4 million), year-on-year to less than NOK 5.3 billion (USD 618.9 million, EUR 521.5 million).

In volume terms, 49,000 MT of fresh cod and 44,300 MT of frozen cod was exported. The main European transit and processing markets of Denmark, Poland, and the Netherlands provided the largest recipients of fresh Norwegian cod, while the United Kingdom, China, and the Netherlands were the main markets for frozen.

Norway exported 562,000 metric tons (MT) of farmed Atlantic salmon, worth NOK 35.3 billion (USD 4.1 billion, EUR 3.5 billion) in the first six months of this year, with the volume increasing 12 percent and the value rising 1 percent. Poland, France, and the United States provided the largest salmon markets, with the average export price for fresh whole salmon sliding from NOK 64.96 (USD 7.59, EUR 6.39) to NOK 58.30 (USD 6.81, EUR 5.74) per kilogram.

Also in the salmonid sector, Norway shipped 25,000 MT of trout worth NOK 1.6 billion (USD 186.8 million, EUR 157.4 million), with the volume and value falling 20 percent and 14 percent respectively compared with the first six months of 2020. However, the average price for fresh trout was NOK 1.21 (USD 0.14, EUR 0.12) per kilogram higher than for fresh salmon. The United States, Ukraine, and Belarus provided the largest trout markets in this period.

Norway’s pelagic sector exported 165,500 MT of herring valued at NOK 1.8 billion (USD 210.2 million, EUR 177.1 million) in the first six months of 2021, with the volume and the value increasing by 2 percent and 1 percent, respectively. At the same time, 116,500 MT of mackerel, also worth NOK 1.8 billion, was sold, with the volume the same as last year and the value down 11 percent.

Poland, Lithuania, and Nigeria have been the largest markets for Norwegian herring so far this year, while South Korea, Vietnam, and Japan have offered the main markets for the country’s mackerel.

With regards to its crab trade, Norway has so far exported 1,100 MT of king crab worth NOK 426 million (USD 49.7 million, EUR 41.9 million), representing a volume increase of 85 percent and a value increase of 104 percent.

"Throughout the first half of the year, we have had tremendous demand for Norwegian king crab from both the grocery trade in the United States and from the restaurant market in Asia. Combined with a gradual opening of restaurants in Europe, this has led to high prices. Combined with several boats that have delivered higher volumes than before, we get the best first half-year ever for king crab,” NSC Shellfish Lead Ørjan Kjærvik Olsen said.

Meanwhile, Norway’s first-half snow crab exports totaled 3,500 MT, with a value of NOK 593 million (USD 69.2 million, EUR 58.3 million), with the volume and value soaring by 246 percent and 318 percent respectively year-on-year.

"Snow crab has been an exciting story this year. As a result of closed restaurants in the U.S., grocery chains started buying snow crab. This has proven very popular with American consumers and has sent both demand and prices up,” Olsen said. “The only bad news is that Norwegian vessels have now fished almost the entire quota, so that growth will slacken off for the rest of the year.”

Norway’s shrimp trade has also grown this year, with 7,200 MT of the crustaceans generating revenues of NOK 461 million (USD 53.8 million, EUR 45.4 million), with the volume and value climbing 29 percent and 3 percent compared with January through June 2020.

Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Finland provided the largest markets for Norwegian shrimp.

In 2020, Norway’s seafood exports totaled 2.7 million MT, worth NOK 105.7 billion (USD 12.3 billion, EUR 10.4 billion) – the second highest annual trade value in the country’s history.  

Photo courtesy of Volodymyr Rozumii/Shutterstock


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