Norwegian seafood exports break 2019 record with a month to go

Published on
December 6, 2021
Norwegian Seafood Council CEO Renate Larsen said the current 2019 export record will likely be beaten by NOK 10 to 11 billion.

Norway exported seafood worth NOK 12 billion (USD 1.3 billion, EUR 1.2 billion) to overseas markets in November, an increase of 28 percent or NOK 2.6 billion (USD 285.3 million, EUR 252.1 million) compared with November 2020. The month’s trade raised the total value for the first 11 months of 2021 to NOK 108.8 billion (USD 11.9 billion, EUR 10.6 million), breaking 2019’s annual record of NOK 107.2 billion (USD 11.8 billion, EUR 10.4 billion).

Norway Minister of Fisheries and Marine Affairs Bjørnar Skjæran said the country's year-to-date performance had impressed him.

“With high demand for Norwegian seafood, good prices, and the Christmas season ahead of us, I believe that we will have a strong end to this record year 2021,” Skjæran said.

Norwegian Seafood Council CEO Renate Larsen said she believes the 2019 record will ultimately be beaten by NOK 10 to 11 billion (USD 1.1 billion to USD 1.2 billion, EUR 969.8 million to EUR 1.1 billion), with growth in demand despite continuing “major challenges with the corona pandemic” at home and in overseas markets.

“This is happening despite the fact that both 2020 and 2021 are very challenging. When we still set a new value record after the first 11 months of the year, it shows that Norwegian seafood hits well in the market demand,” Larsen said.

Larsen said she was uncertain whether the spread of the new COVID-19 variant omicron will affect Christmastime seafood sales.

“We do not believe that a possible new shutdown will affect demand as dramatically as at the start of the corona pandemic," she said. "Many people have learned to make seafood at home at the same time as new shopping patterns have been established with online shopping and increased use of home delivery. This makes fresh seafood products better equipped than at the start of the pandemic, when the fresh fish counters in several countries closed down.”

In terms of species, November brought a new monthly record for Norwegian salmon and the third-highest ever, with the export of 127,000 metric tons (MT), worth NOK 8 billion (USD 877.9 million, EUR 776.1 million). Compared with November 2020, Norway's salmon export volume and value received were up 19 percent and 40 percent, respectively, in November 2021.

Poland, France, and Denmark were the top markets for the product. NSC said NOK 145 million (USD 15.9 million, EUR 14.1 million) worth of salmon was exported to Thailand last month, an increase of 92 percent year-on-year. The volume sold to the market increased 47 percent to 2,400 MT.

Norway also exported 6,600 MT of trout worth a record NOK 427 million (USD 46.9 million, EUR 41.4 million), with export volumes and value rising 6 percent and 31 percent, respectively. Belarus, Japan, and the United States provided the largest trout markets.

From its whitefish sector, Norway exported 2,600 MT of fresh cod in November, earning NOK 125 million (USD 13.7 million, EUR 12.1 million), up 34 percent and 35 percent, respectively, with Denmark, Sweden, and Germany serving as the main markets.

Some 8,100 MT of frozen cod, worth NOK 351 million (USD 38.5 million, EUR 34.1 million) was also exported, with the volume and value rising 16 percent and 24 percent, respectively. The United Kingdom, Poland, and China were the product’s top markets.

In November 2021, Norway's pelagic sector exported 52,700 MT of herring, valued at NOK 640 million (USD 70.3 million, EUR 62.1 million), with the volume down 2 percent on November last year and the value increasing by 8 percent.

At the same time, Norwegian seafood firms sold 43,100 MT of mackerel worth NOK 764 million (USD 83.9 million, EUR 74.1 million), down 25 percent and 18 percent, respectively. However, with a record-breaking start to the season and high export volumes in August, September and October, exports were expected to slow down somewhat in November, Larsen said. Egypt, Poland, and Lithuania offered the largest markets for Norwegian herring in November, while South Korea, Japan, and China were the main markets for the country’s mackerel.

In regard to its crab trade, Norway exported 155 MT of king crab in November, worth NOK 116 million (USD 12.7 million, EUR 11.3 million), representing a volume decrease of 11 percent but a value increase of 84 percent. The United States, Denmark, and Spain were the product’s largest markets. NSC Shellfish Manager Josefine Voraa said Norwegian exporters encountered a high willingness to pay for the product in the U.S. and European markets, and that demand, combined with a weak krone, led to another price record.

The export price of NOK 865 (USD 94.91, EUR 83.91) per kilogram for frozen king crab from Norway is up 40 percent, or NOK 248 (USD 27.21, EUR 24.06) per kilogram" over October's price, she said. King crab to the U.S. market in November broke all records in terms of volume and value.

“82 MT of king crab worth NOK 68 million (USD 7.5 million, EUR 6.6 million) were exported. This is an increase in volume of 68 percent, or 33 MT," Voraa said. "Frozen king crab accounts for the largest growth."

In value, the increase was 238 percent or NOK 48 million (USD 5.3 million, EUR 4.7 million), compared with November last year. Growth was also seen in live king crab exports to the U.S. in November 2021, Voraa said. 

Photo courtesy of the Norwegian Seafood Council

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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