Norwegian seafood exporters weather COVID flare-ups to deliver one of their best months ever

Published on
November 9, 2020

Despite the challenges brought by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic in many key markets, Norway exported NOK 10.4 billion (USD 1.1 billion, EUR 951.6 million) worth of seafood products last month. While this total represented a decrease of 5 percent, or NOK 573 million (USD 61.4 million, EUR 52.4 million) compared with October 2019, it was still the country’s third-highest export value for a single month.

For the first 10 months of 2020, the Scandinavian country sold NOK 87.2 billion (USD 9.3 billion, EUR 8 billion) worth of seafood to overseas markets, which is on par with last year’s record. According to the Norwegian Seafood Council (NSC), this feat is largely attributable to the weak Norwegian krone.

Last month’s salmon exports amounted to a record 120,000 MT, with Poland, Denmark, and France serving as the three largest markets. The value fell 2 percent year-on-year to NOK 6.5 billion (USD 696.7 million, EUR 595 million), with prices 6 percent lower at NOK 48.57 (USD 5.21, EUR 4.45) per kilogram.

NSC said there has been a falling price trend since June due to increased export volumes, reduced demand from the restaurant sector, and a shift in the flow of goods toward Europe’s large processing markets.

The council’s analyst, Paul Aandahl, also highlighted that volumes to Asia have fallen the most this year, and that last month, this was particularly the case for China and Israel.

"Reduced demand in China as a result of the corona[virus] pandemic and increased competition from Chilean salmon in Israel is probably the reason for the reduced exports to these markets," he said.

So far this year, 920,000 MT of salmon has been sold by Norway to overseas markets, generating NOK 58.3 billion (USD 6.2 billion, EUR 5.3 billion). While the volume is at the same level as last year, the value is down 1 percent.

Over the same period, it has also shipped 60,000 MT of trout for NOK 3.2 billion (USD 343 million, EUR 292.9 million), representing year-on-year increases of 27 percent and 9 percent, respectively.

In the whitefish sector, Norway exported 1,900 MT of fresh cod products worth NOK 86 million (USD 9.2 million, EUR 7.9 million) in October, down 8 percent and 22 percent, respectively. At the same time, it sold 5,200 MT of frozen cod valued at NOK 225 million (USD 24.1 million, EUR 20.6 million), with both the volume and value rising by 17 percent.

For the year to-date, it has sold 43,700 MT of fresh cod and 58,300 MT of frozen cod to non-Norwegian markets, generating earnings of NOK 2 billion (USD 214.4 million, EUR 183.1 million) and NOK 2.6 billion (USD 278.7 million, EUR 238 million) respectively.

“Demand for frozen cod products has been high during the shutdown in the markets. Prices for frozen whole cod have risen slightly in the last couple of months after a steady fall in prices since April. At the same time, we have seen that this growth has slowed down somewhat as the countries have reopened,” NSC Analyst, Ingrid Kristine Pettersen, said.

Also in this sector, Norway has so far exported 67,100 MT of clipfish, earning NOK 3.5 billion (USD 375.1 million, EUR 320.4 million), representing a volume decrease of 12 percent, and an 11 percent decline in value. This year’s saltfish trade currently stands at 22,300 MT worth NOK 1.3 billion (USD 139.4 million, EUR 119.1 million), up 6 percent and 10 percent respectively.

With regard to its key pelagic species, the country has already exported 227,000 MT of herring worth NOK 2.8 billion (USD 300.3 million, EUR 256.4 million) this year, representing a volume decrease of 7 percent and a 25 percent higher value. Its mackerel exports, meanwhile, have increased 14 percent in volume and 10 percent in value to 205,000 MT and NOK 3.5 billion (USD 375.4 million, EUR 320.6 million).

Norway’s shellfish sector has to-date exported 1,700 MT of king crab for NOK 542 million (USD 58.1 million, EUR 49.6 million), and 10,000 MT of prawns worth NOK 759 million (USD 81.4 million, EUR 69.5 million).

In 2019, Norway exported some 2.7 million MT of fisheries and aquaculture products, achieving all-time high revenue of NOK 107.3 billion (USD 11.5 billion, EUR 9.8 billion).

Photo courtesy of Norwegian Seafood Council

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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