Norwegian seafood export earnings continue to rise despite pandemic pressures

Published on
May 7, 2021

Norway’s seafood sector sold NOK 8.6 billion (USD 1 billion, EUR 861.4 million) worth of fisheries and aquaculture products to overseas markets last month, an increase of 4 percent, or NOK 338 million (USD 40.6 million, EUR 33.9 million), compared with April 2020.

Consequently, Norway has posted record earnings in March and April, with the Norwegian Seafood Council (NSC) CEO Renate Larsen highlighting that the growth has come even though seafood markets “are still strongly affected by the corona[virus] pandemic and a strengthened Norwegian krone,” and that parts of the industry is still facing “challenging times.”

This is partly because record-high volumes are being exported at increased prices for salmon and snow crab, she said.

“The demand for salmon in France and Italy is again growing. At the same time, the Americans have opened their eyes to the snow crab," Larsen said.

The stronger Norwegian krone means that seafood exporters have been paid less for their goods than at the same time last year.

According to NSC’s calculations, the negative currency effect for all seafood exports last month alone was about NOK 1 billion (USD 119.7 million, EUR 99.7 million) compared with April 2020, and that comparing the first four months of this year with the same period of last year, the effect amounts to NOK 2 billion (USD 239.3 million, EUR 199.5 million).

In total, Norway exported 86,000 metric tons (MT) of salmon products worth NOK 5.8 billion (USD 694.1 million, EUR 578.5 million) last month, with the volume and value increasing by 4 percent and 9 percent, respectively. Poland, France, and the United States provided the largest salmon markets.

Despite the large volume growth, the price of salmon is now rising, NSC Analyst Paul Aandahl said.

“Measured in Norwegian kroner, the price increase for fresh whole salmon was 11 percent in April. Converted into euros, the price increase is as much as 25 percent. Overall, the exchange rate change had a negative value effect on salmon exports of NOK 702.9 million [USD 84.1 million, EUR 70.1 million] in April,” Aandahl said.

Also in the salmonid sector, Norway exported 3,800 MT of trout worth NOK 246 million (USD 29.4 million, EUR 24.5 million) last month, with the volume and value falling 10 percent and 5 percent respectively. The U.S., Ukraine and Belarus, and Japan provided the largest trout markets.

With regard to its whitefish sector, Norway exported 11,600 MT of fresh cod in April, earning NOK 385 million (USD 46.1 million, EUR 38.4 million), up 61 percent and 25 percent, respectively.

The main European transit and processing markets of Denmark, Poland, and the Netherlands provided the largest recipients of fresh Norwegian cod.

At the same time, 7,700 MT of frozen cod worth some NOK 315 million (USD 37.7 million, EUR 31.4 million) was exported, up 42 percent in volume and 13 percent in value, with the U.K., China, and France offering the main markets.

Norway’s pelagic sector exported 12,000 MT of herring valued at NOK 207 million (USD 24.8 million, EUR 20.6 million) last month, with the volume down 33 percent on April last year and the value decreasing by 26 percent. At the same time, 10,100 MT of mackerel worth NOK 169 million (USD 20.2 million, EUR 16.9 million) was sold, down 27 percent and 37 percent, respectively.

Poland, Lithuania, and Sweden were the largest markets for Norwegian herring in April, while Vietnam, South Korea, and Japan offered the main markets for the country’s mackerel.

For the aforementioned crab trade, Norway exported 99 MT of king crab, worth NOK 41 million (USD 4.9 million, EUR 4.1 million), representing a volume increase of 187 percent and a value rise of 234 percent.

Besides the U.S., the products were popular in both Japan and South Korea.

An upturn was also seen with shrimp, with 889 MT of the crustaceans generating revenues of NOK 65 million (USD 7.8 million, EUR 6.5 million) last month, with the volume and value climbing 28 percent and 9 percent compared with April 2020.

Sweden, the U.K., and Finland provided the largest markets for Norwegian shrimp.

In 2020, Norway exported some 2.7 million MT of seafood worth NOK 105.7 billion (USD 12.6 billion, EUR 10.5 billion) – the second-highest annual trade value in the country’s history.

Photo courtesy of mady70/Shutterstock

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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