Norway’s seafood exporters rack up another strong month despite falling demand for salmon

Published on
August 7, 2020

With overseas sales of NOK 7.9 billion (USD 879.3 million, EUR 742.3 million), Norway’s seafood exporters matched last year’s record July, the latest trade figures from the Norwegian Seafood Council (NSC) have confirmed.

So far this year, the Scandinavian country has shipped seafood valued at NOK 60.8 billion (USD 6.8 billion, EUR 5.7 billion), an increase of 3 percent – or NOK 1.9 billion (USD 211.5 million, EUR 178.5 million) – compared with the first seven months of 2019.

The NSC said a weakened Norwegian kroner and a good whitefish trade contributed to July’s growth, but it also warned of weaker demand for salmon, particularly in some Asian markets that have not normalized since several COVID-19 cases were traced to a food market in Beijing in June.

As an additional headwind, NSC Director of Market Insight and Market Access Tom-Jørgen Gangsø said the kroner had strengthened recently.

“At the same time, general tourism is lower than last year, with fewer freight options and some restrictions in individual markets. The European markets are importing larger volumes overall, but at a lower price,” Gangsø said.

Last month’s salmon exports totaled 94,800 MT, which was 6 percent more than in July 2019, but the trade achieved a total sales value of NOK 5.6 billion (USD 623.4 million, EUR 526.1 million), a fall of 2 percent compared with a year previously. The average price for fresh whole salmon was NOK 54.43 (USD 6.06, EUR 5.11) per kilogram, down from July 2019’s NOK 59.60 (USD 6.64, EUR 5.60). 

While China, Hong Kong, and Sweden bought significantly smaller volumes, supplies to Poland, France and Germany increased sharply, the NSC said.

So far this year, Norway has exported 595,000 MT of salmon worth NOK 40.6 billion (USD 4.5 billion, EUR 3.8 billion), with the volume and value on par with the same period of 2019.

Over the same seven-month period, the country sold 38,700 MT of trout, achieving revenues of NOK 2.2 billion (USD 245.1 million, EUR 206.7 million), with the volume and value up 31 percent and 11 percent respectively year-on-year. Ukraine, the United States, and Finland were its largest trout markets in July.

In the whitefish sector, Norway exported 1,900 MT of fresh cod in July, earning NOK 84 million (USD 9.4 million, EUR 7.9 million), representing increases of 31 percent and 16 percent, respectively. However, for the first seven months of the year, 37,900 MT, or NOK 1.7 billion (USD 189.4 million, EUR 159.7 million) worth of these products were sold overseas, representing an 8 percent decrease in volume and a 3 percent drop in value. 

Also last month, 5,800 MT of frozen cod with a value of NOK 240 million (USD 26.7 million, EUR 22.6 million) was exported. This represented a 36 percent increase in volume and a value rise of 37 percent. So far in 2020, 46,200 MT of frozen cod worth NOK 2.1 billion (USD 233.9 million, EUR 197.3 million) ­has been exported by Norway, with the volume up 5 percent and the value climbing 14 percent year-on-year. 

Denmark, Sweden, and the Netherlands were the largest markets for Norwegian fresh cod last month, while China, the United Kingdom, and the United States were the largest recipients of frozen cod.

NSC Analyst Ingrid Kristine Pettersen explained that the price of fresh cod has been lower than last year, but is on the way up after bottoming in May. Meanwhile, the price of frozen fillets remains the same as last year, and frozen whole cod prices have fallen below the level seen two years ago.

With regards to key pelagic species, the country exported 10,400 MT of herring worth NOK 144 million (USD 16.1 million, EUR 13.5 million) last month, representing a volume reduction of 28 percent and 6 percent lower value compared with July 2019. On the plus side, it sold 7,500 MT of mackerel for NOK 131 million (USD 14.6 million, EUR 12.3 million), up 14 percent in both volume and value.

For the year to date, it has sold 167,000 MT of herring and 124,000 MT of mackerel with values of NOK 1.9 billion (USD 211.8 million, EUR 178.6 million) and NOK 2.2 billion, respectively.

Over the same seven month period, it has sold 816 MT of king crab for NOK 275 million (USD 30.6 million, EUR 25.8 million) and 6,100 MT of prawns for NOK 491 million (USD 54.7 million, EUR 46.1 million).

In 2019, Norway exported 2.7 million MT of fisheries and aquaculture products, achieving a record revenue of NOK 107.3 billion (USD 11.9 billion, EUR 10.1 billion).

Photo courtesy of varuna/Shutterstock

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

Want seafood news sent to your inbox?

You may unsubscribe from our mailing list at any time. Diversified Communications | 121 Free Street, Portland, ME 04101 | +1 207-842-5500