Increased demand from China boosts earnings for Norway’s seafood exporters

Published on
September 10, 2019

Norway saw another month of improved value on its seafood exports thanks to strong demand from multiple markets.

Norwegian seafood companies exported 182,000 metric tons (MT) of fisheries and aquaculture products worth NOK 8.6 billion (USD 947.8 million, EUR 861.3 million) last month. While the August volume was 4 percent lower than a year previously, the value was 9 percent or NOK 678 million (USD 74.7 million, EUR 67.9 million) higher.

So far this year, Norway has exported 1.6 million MT of seafood worth NOK 68 billion (USD 7.5 billion, EUR 6.8 billion), with the volume down 10 percent and the value climbing 7.2 percent, or NOK 4.5 billion (USD 495.9 million, EUR 450.6 million) year-on-year. 

The Norwegian Seafood Council (NSC) attributes much of the value growth to increased prices, a weak Norwegian krone, and “good demand” in several markets.

Tom-Jørgen Gangsø, director of market insight and market access with the NSC, highlighted that exporters have been experiencing increased demand from the Chinese market for both salmon and mackerel. At the same time, in the whitefish sector the growth in value has continued, particularly for cod.

Frozen cod and clipfish were particularly strong performers last month, he said.

Norway’s salmon exporters had a record August, with the trade totalling 104,000 MT valued at NOK 6.2 billion (USD 683.5 million, EUR 620.9 million), up 5 percent in volume and 6 percent in value compared to the corresponding month last year.

To date, the Scandinavian country has exported 698,000 MT of salmon, earning NOK 46.5 billion (USD 5.1 billion, EUR 4.7 billion). 

The average price for whole fresh salmon last month was NOK 55.54 (USD 6.12, EUR 5.56) per kilogram, compared with NOK 54.48 (USD 6.01, EUR 5.46) in August 2018. Poland, France and Denmark continued to provide the largest markets for these products.

“We have never seen such large regional price differences as in August this year. While the average price for the E.U. was NOK 52.43 (USD 5.78, EUR 5.25) per kilogram, Asian markets were NOK 14.19 (USD 1.56, EUR 1.42) per kilogram higher and prices in North America were NOK 16.47 (USD 1.82, EUR 1.65) per kilogram higher. The continuing depreciation of the kroner against the dollar than against the euro is an explanation. In addition, increased demand from Asia for large salmon, which is greater than we can supply, may explain some of this difference”, said Gangsø.

“Driven by increased demand, we see continuing very positive growth for Norwegian salmon to China," added Victoria Braathen, fisheries envoy for the NSC in China. "More efficient trade means that more Norwegian salmon is now exported to China. Fresh whole salmon dominates the salmon trade and Chinese buyers have a marked preference for large salmon. This affects both available fish to the market and the price level of salmon to the Chinese market compared to other markets that accept salmon of different sizes.” 

With August exports of 5,808 MT worth NOK 325 million (USD 35.8 million, EUR 32.5 million), Norway’s trout trade for the year to date increased to 35,000 MT worth NOK 2.3 billion (USD 253.6 million, EUR 230.3 million).

In the whitefish sector, with quotas down on last year, Norway last month exported 1,500 MT of fresh cod products valued at NOK 74 million (USD 8.2 million, EUR 7.4 million), with the volume and value 40 percent and 18 percent lower than in August 2018, respectively. In the first eight months of 2019, Norway exported 42,600 MT of fresh cod worth NOK 1.8 billion (USD 198.5 million, EUR 180.3 million). 

However, the NSC highlighted that with the exception of January, August saw exporters achieve the highest prices for fresh cod, averaging NOK 40.90 (USD 4.51, EUR 4.10) per kilogram – up 31 percent on August 2018.

Norway also exported 5,500 MT of frozen cod valued at NOK 226 million (USD 24.9 million, EUR 22.6 million) last month, with the volume and value rising by 14 percent and 25 percent respectively. So far this year, Norway has exported 50,000 MT of frozen cod for NOK 2.1 billion (USD 231.6 million, EUR 210.4 million), which is a volume increase of 4 percent and a value rise of 21 percent year-on-year.

In the pelagic trade, Norway exported 12,500 MT of herring worth NOK 148 million (USD 16.3 million, EUR 14.8 million), and 8,900 MT of mackerel with a value of NOK 158 million (USD 17.4 million, EUR 15.8 million) last month. To date, 182,000 MT of herring worth NOK 1.7 billion (USD 187.6 million, EUR 170.4 million) and 86,000 MT of mackerel worth NOK 1.1 billion (USD 121.4 million, EUR 110.3 million) have been shipped to overseas markets.

"As we now enter this year's season, we see that Norwegian mackerel exports to China are experiencing a marked increase. Mackerel to China is mainly used for processing and further export to markets such as Japan and Korea. At the same time, we are experiencing an increased interest in Norwegian mackerel in the Chinese market. Norwegian mackerel is aligned with consumer food trends in China with an increased focus on healthy and nutritious food and this shows considerable potential for increased consumption going forward” said Braathen.

NSC’s data also found that 372 MT of king crab with a value of NOK 115 million (USD 12.7 million, EUR 11.5 million) were exported last month, with South Korea, China and the United States providing the main markets. The king crab volume and value for the January through August period has increased to 1,444 MT and NOK 446 million (USD 49.2 million, EUR 44.7 million). 

Furthermore, some 1,100 MT of shrimp worth NOK 88 million (USD 9.7 million, EUR 8.8 million) was exported last month, representing increases of 34 percent and 21 percent respectively. So far this year, Norway has exported 9,200 MT of shrimp for NOK 688 million (USD 75.9 million, EUR 68.9 million). Sweden, the United Kingdom and Finland have provided the main markets for Norwegian shrimp this year.

According to the NSC, with the exception of July, shrimp fishing has been at a higher level than in the corresponding months of 2018. 

The increased shrimp landings have correlated with the lower cod quota, and the high prices – due to a reduced global supply – have given fishermen “good incentives” to switch to shrimp, it said.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock 

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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