High seafood prices earn Norway an extra USD 306 million in November, despite lower volumes

A seafood counter in Norway.

High seafood prices have driven Norway to its third-best month ever in terms of export value, despite many species seeing lower volumes overall and reports of “unrest” in salmon markets.

Norway sold NOK 14.4 billion (USD 1.5 billion, EUR 1.4 billion) worth of fisheries and aquaculture products to overseas markets in November, representing an increase of 19 percent, or NOK 2.3 billion (USD 235.3 million, EUR 222.9 million), compared with November 2021. So far this year, the industry has exported NOK 138 billion (USD 14.1 billion, EUR 13.4 billion) worth of seafood, which is NOK 29.2 billion (USD 3 billion, EUR 2.8 billion) ahead of the same period of 2021, the Norwegian Seafood Council (NSC) said.

November’s export value is the third-highest ever in a single month, but the total is being driven by higher prices rather than larger volumes, NSC CEO Christian Chramer said.

“In general, we have high food inflation and increased costs, which drive up prices throughout the value chain,” Chramer said.

The NSC calculated that higher prices alone accounted for almost NOK 3 billion (USD 306.9 million, EUR 290.8 million) of last month’s export total. This was in part helped by the further weakening of the Norwegian kroner against the U.S. dollar and euro.

"Since a weak kroner results in higher export prices measured in Norwegian kroner, it is a favorable development for everyone who sells goods abroad. In total, the currency effect contributed to a value increase of around NOK 300 million (USD 30.7 million, EUR 29.1 million) for Norwegian seafood exports in November,” Chramer said.

The benefits from a weak kroner, however, were largely offset by the lower volumes. According to the NSC many seafood species were exported in lower volumes in November than a year ago – depressing revenues by approximately NOK 900 million (USD 92.1 million, EUR 87.2 million).

Nevertheless, the council expects that if this year's strong value growth continues in December, seafood exports will pass NOK 150 billion (USD 15.3 billion, EUR 14.5 billion) by the end of 2022.

This, it said, will be mainly due to salmon, which accounted for 70 percent of the total export value in November.

“For the second month in a row, salmon exports exceeded NOK 10 billion (USD 1 billion, EUR 969.4 million) in value, a historically high level. After the first 11 months of the year, the total export value from the aquaculture sector is, for the very first time, NOK 100 billion [USD 10.2 billion, EUR 9.7 billion],” Chramer said.

However, Chramer also pointed to “reports from the markets” of “an unsettled and unclear situation” related to the contract market for salmon in 2023.

“This erodes the predictability that Norwegian salmon has represented for importers, producers, and retail customers,” Chramer said.

Norway exported 125,234 metric tons (MT) of salmon last month valued at NOK 10.1 billion (USD 1 billion, EUR 979.3 million). That represents a volume decrease of 1 percent but a value increase of 28 percent compared with November last year. Poland, the U.S., and France were the largest recipients of Norwegian salmon.

Norway shipped 4,897 MT of trout valued at NOK 454 million (USD 46.5 million, EUR 44 million), with the volume down 25 percent, and the value rising 7 percent. The U.S., Thailand, and Lithuania provided the main markets.

From its whitefish sector, Norway shipped 2,945 MT of fresh cod last month, earning NOK 178 million (USD 18.2 million, EUR 17.3 million), with the volume and value rising 13 percent and 43 percent respectively. Denmark, Sweden, and Spain provided the top three markets.

At the same time, it exported 4,024 MT of frozen cod, worth NOK 234 million (USD 23.9 million, EUR 22.7 million), with the volume and value falling 50 percent and 33 percent respectively. The United Kingdom, China, and Poland were the product’s top markets.

Pelagic fish exporters shipped 43,884 MT of herring, valued at NOK 577 million (USD 59.1 million, EUR 55.9 million), with the volume and value falling 24 percent and 15 percent respectively. Exporters also sold 33,062 MT of mackerel worth NOK 620 million (USD 63.5 million, EUR 60.1 million), representing a 23 percent decrease in volume and a fall in value of 19 percent.

Poland, Lithuania, and Cameroon offered the largest markets for Norwegian herring last month, while South Korea, Japan, and Poland were the main markets for the country’s mackerel.

Norway’s shellfish sector reported another good month for overseas shrimp sales, with some 2,254 MT of products generating NOK 112 million (USD 11.5 million, EUR 10.9 million), up 72 percent and 40 percent respectively. Iceland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom were the biggest markets in November.

Additionally, the country exported 120 MT of king crab worth NOK 79 million (USD 8.1 million, EUR 7.7 million), representing a 32 percent decrease in both volume and value. The U.S., Canada, and the Netherlands were the product’s largest markets.

Norway shipped 198 MT of snow crab worth NOK 25 million (USD 2.6 million, EUR 2.4 million) last month, with Indonesia, the U.S., and the Netherlands providing the three main markets.  

Photo courtesy of the Norwegian Seafood Council


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