Norway sees salmon prices rise but “great uncertainty” in the salted and clipfish trade

Published on
June 1, 2020

The volume of whole fresh salmon exported by Norway continued to slide last week as the preference for prepacked fillets among the country’s main markets gathered more momentum. In kroner terms, however, the price of whole salmon is now higher than a year ago, according to the latest trade update from the Norwegian Seafood Council (NSC).

In week 22, there was an 11 percent decrease in the overseas sales of whole fresh salmon compared to a year previously, while exports of fresh and frozen salmon fillets increased by 17 percent and 54 percent, respectively. Overall, 21,776 metric tons (MT) of salmon was exported over the seven-day period, representing a decrease of 6 percent year-on-year.

“The price growth for fresh whole salmon continues,” NSC Analyst Paul Aandahl said. “The average export price for fresh whole salmon last week was NOK 65.45 (USD 6.62, EUR 6.01) per kilogram. This is an increase of 6 percent from the same week last year. However, the price is lower than at the same time last year measured in euros.”

The increase marks the first time in weeks that the price has exceeded 2019 levels.

“For the first time since the corona[virus] pandemic outbreak started in week 9, we see the salmon price exceeding last year’s price for the same week,” Aandahl said.

Aandahl also said that “a continued positive development” was seen in exports of whole fresh salmon to the Polish and Dutch processing markets, and that the fresh salmon fillet trade was helping to stabilize key overseas consumer markets like the United States, Japan, and France.

So far this year, 454,000 MT of salmon has been exported by the Scandinavian country, which is at about the same level as the corresponding period of 2019.

In the whitefish trade, Norway’s exports of fresh whole cod are also on par with last year, with sales increasing by 31 percent in week 22 thanks to more volumes going to Denmark, Spain, the Netherlands, and Sweden. However, for the coronavirus outbreak weeks of 9 to 21, the volumes are down 6 percent year-on-year.

Whole frozen cod sales have fallen 4 percent so far in 2020, but increased by 12 percent between weeks 9 to 21. In week 22, whole frozen cod exports decreased by 30 percent year-on-year, while the frozen fillet trade increased by 108 percent.

NSC Analyst Ingrid Kristine Pettersen said that growth was seen last week for fresh whole cod, haddock, and saithe but that falling demand has driven prices down.

“Despite a very weak Norwegian kroner, we see a significant fall in prices measured in NOK. The price is now 6 percent lower than at the same time last year, while the price has fallen by 34 percent from a historically high level in week 1,” she said.

There have also been declines in Norway’s salted whole cod and cod clipfish trades in 2020. For the year to date, the volumes shipped are 4 percent and 17 percent lower, respectively. Specifically during the aforementioned corona period, salted cod exports fell 22 percent and the clipfish volumes were down 7 percent.

The decline in the clipfish trade started in earnest around Easter time, while salted whole cod exports experienced year-on-year growth through to week 17, explained Pettersen, adding that clipfish prices have remained high while saltfish prices have fallen.

Portugal and Brazil are the two largest markets for cod clipfish, but expectations of reduced demand in Portugal over the next few months and near-full stoppages in the Brazilian market are contributing to “great uncertainty going forward,” she said.

“Brazil is experiencing three crises at the same time; a social, an economic and a political crisis that is expected to affect the economy and consumer demand for a long time to come,” NSC Fisheries Envoy to Brazil Oystein Valanes said.

In 2019, Norway exported 23,400 MT of salted fish and 91,800 MT of clipfish, with the trades earning NOK 1.3 billion (USD 131.4 million, EUR 119.4 million) and NOK 4.8 billion (USD 485.3 million, EUR 440.8 million), respectively.

In the first-quarter of this year, Norway’s seafood exporters sold 664,000 MT of fisheries and aquaculture products worth NOK 28.6 billion (USD 2.9 billion, EUR 2.6 billion) to overseas markets.

In its update, NSC said exports will increase as foodservice trades gradually return in different markets, highlighting that restaurants and cafes in France – an important market for Norwegian seafood – are set to reopen from 2 June in regions where infection rates are low. 

Photo courtesy of Giancana/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