Norway’s seafood export earnings soar in “demanding times”

Published on
June 6, 2022
A Norwegian fishing boat pulls in its catch.

Norway seafood exporters saw big increases in value in May, with farmed salmon experiencing one of its best months ever.

Norway’s exporters sold a total of NOK 12.4 billion (USD 1.3 billion, EUR 1.2 billion) worth of fisheries and aquaculture products to overseas markets in May. Compared with May 2021, the increase in value was 49 percent, or NOK 4.1 billion (USD 436.9 million, EUR 406.5 million), while the total export value up to and including May hit NOK 57.8 billion (USD 6.2 billion, EUR 5.7 billion) – 30 percent or NOK 13.2 billion (USD 1.4 billion, EUR 1.3 billion) more than in the corresponding period of 2021.

Norwegian Seafood Council (NSC) Acting CEO Børge Grønbech said May’s export value was the second highest in a single month, only beaten by March this year.

“To put it in perspective; throughout 2012, Norwegian seafood exports amounted to NOK 52.1 billion (USD 5.5 billion, EUR 5.2 billion). We have thus passed this value already after five months in 2022,” he said. “It shows what an export adventure Norwegian seafood has been in the last 10 years.”

The growth was mainly due to increased export prices, primarily for salmon, but also for other species such as trout, cod, saithe, haddock, and herring, Grønbech said, adding that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is also affecting the market.

“There is no doubt that we live in demanding times,” he said. “High global food inflation and a limited supply of important fish species from both Norway and other countries are some of the factors that are driving up prices.”
Norway’s seafood industry is also seeing rising costs in connection with food production, Grønbech said.

“Both the processing industry, the aquaculture companies, and the fleet link have noticed that everything from raw materials to fuel and electricity is increasing in price. An expected rise in interest rates and a fall in real wages in many important markets are also demanding factors. There is therefore uncertainty associated with future demand development,” he said.

NSC confirmed that in May, Norway exported 84,800 metric tons (MT) of farmed Atlantic salmon worth NOK 8.6 billion (USD 916 million, EUR 852.4 million), with the export volume rising 3 percent and the value increasing 47 percent compared with the corresponding month of 2021.

Poland, Denmark, and France offered the largest markets for the species, while the United Kingdom offered the largest growth.

“We now see that there is significantly lower salmon production in Scotland. The Norwegian salmon has therefore taken larger market shares in the grocery trade, where most chains sell fresh fillets of both Norwegian and Scottish salmon,” NSC’s Envoy to the United Kingdom Hans Frode Kielland Asmyhr said.

Norway also exported 3,900 MT of trout worth NOK 397 million (USD 42.3 million, EUR 39.3 million), with the volume falling 8 percent, and the value rising 46 percent. Thailand, the United States, and Malaysia provided the largest trout markets, with the export price for fresh products reaching a record NOK 102.05 (USD 10.92, EUR 10.16) per kilogram.

Norway’s whitefish sector exported 4,700 MT of fresh cod last month, earning NOK 217 million (USD 23.1 million, EUR 21.5 million), with the volume falling 3 percent and the value rising 24 percent. Denmark, the Netherlands, and Germany provided the top three markets.

At the same time, Norway sold 8,500 MT of frozen cod, worth NOK 453 million (USD 48.2 million, EUR 44.9 million), overseas with the volume and value rising 39 percent and 91 percent compared with May 2021. China, the United Kingdom, and Portugal were the product’s top markets.

Meanwhile, the pelagic sector exported 16,100 MT of herring, valued at NOK 302 million (USD 32.1 million, EUR 29.9 million), with the volume and value rising 79 percent and 192 percent respectively. It also sold 6,800 MT of mackerel worth NOK 137 million (USD 14.6 million, EUR 13.6 million), representing a 12 percent decrease in volume and value rise of 6 percent.

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

Norway’s shellfish sector exported 58 MT of king crab worth NOK 39 million (USD 4.2 million, EUR 3.9 million), representing a volume decrease of 51 percent and a 17 percent lower value. The United States, Spain, and Turkey were the product’s largest markets.

The Scandinavian country also sold 619 MT of snow crab worth NOK 111 million (USD 11.8 million, EUR 11 million), down 20 percent and 15 percent respectively. This was in addition to 2,500 MT of shrimp with a value of NOK 117 million (USD 12.5 million, EUR 11.6 million), with the volume and value rising 50 percent and 49 percent respectively.  

Photo courtesy of wildestanimal/Shutterstock

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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