Norwegian seafood exports on course for record year

Published on
October 6, 2021
Packaged salmon from Norway. Norway is on pace for a record year for seafood exports, with the value well ahead of 2019.

The first nine months of 2021 saw overseas markets import NOK 84.7 billion (USD 9.8 billion, EUR 8.5 billion) worth of seafood from Norway, an increase of 10 percent, or NOK 7.9 billion (USD 917.5 million, EUR 795 million) over the corresponding period of last year.

“A gradual reopening of the markets has given a boost to the demand for Norwegian seafood. From a fall in exports at the beginning of the year, we have seen a sharp growth in the third quarter. This is our strongest quarterly result of all time, and everything is pointing toward 2021 being a record year for Norwegian seafood exports,” Norwegian Seafood Council CEO Renate Larsen said. “When it comes to market development, we have seen the strongest growth in exports to Asia, where countries such as China, South Korea, and Thailand have really opened their eyes to Norwegian seafood. In addition, we see a very good export growth to the United States and Italy.”

Norway’s current export record was set in pre-COVID 2019, when NOK 107.2 billion (USD 12.4 billion, EUR 10.8 billion) worth of seafood was exported.

NSC estimated the export value for the first nine months of 2021 at NOK 8.6 billion (USD 998.6 million, EUR 865.4 million) ahead of the same period of 2019.

After a tight start to the year compared to last year, Norway's export value has picked up speed in Q2 and Q3, despite Norway's currency, the krone, strengthening over the year, which has made Norwegian seafood more expensive in the global market, Larsen said.

According to the council’s figures, Norway’s seafood exports totaled NOK 27.9 billion (USD 3.2 billion, EUR 2.8 billion) in Q1 2021, down 2 percent; NOK 25.9 billion (USD 3 billion, EUR 2.6 billion) in Q2, up 5 percent; and NOK 31 billion (USD 3.6 billion, EUR 3.1 billion) in Q3, up 33 percent.

Norway Minister of Fisheries and Seafood Odd Emil Ingebrigtsen said it was “gratifying” that the country’s seafood exports continue to show such strong development, and to see the value growth spread across a number of species and products.

“I am delighted that the seafood industry has recovered well from the corona crisis, and that there is once again a high demand for seafood in the export markets. Conditions should be conducive to further growth in exports, and I wish this entire fantastic industry good luck in the future,” Ingebrigtsen said.

In terms of products, Norway’s salmon exports for the first nine months increased in volume by 14 percent year-on-year to 912,000 metric tons (MT), worth NOK 56.9 billion (USD 6.6 billion, EUR 5.7 billion) – up 10 percent, with Poland, France, and Denmark offering the largest markets.

China and Italy have shown the most growth in value so far this year, NSC said, pointing out that these two countries were among the most strongly affected by the pandemic in 2020. 

The average price for fresh whole salmon so far this year is NOK 57.81 (USD 6.71, EUR 5.82) per kilogram, down 3 percent from the same time last year.

Also in the salmonid sector, Norway exported 44,400 MT of trout worth NOK 2.8 billion (USD 325.2 million, EUR 281.9 million) in the January-September period, with the volume falling 16 percent and the value dropping 3 percent. Belarus, Ukraine, and the United States have provided the largest trout markets this year.

The country’s whitefish sector exported 55,800 MT of fresh cod in the same period, earning NOK 2 billion (USD 232.1 million, EUR 201.3 million), up 33 percent and 9 percent respectively, with Denmark, Poland, and the Netherlands offering the main markets.

At the same time, 57,600 MT of frozen cod, worth NOK 2.3 billion (USD 325.2 million, EUR 281.8 million) was exported, up 9 percent in volume, while the value was down 6 percent. China, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands have been the product’s top markets.

Norway’s pelagic sector exported 206,400 MT of herring in the first nine months, valued at NOK 2.4 billion (USD 278.8 million, EUR 241.6 million), with the volume up 2 percent on last year and the value decreasing by the same amount. Some 257,600 MT of mackerel worth NOK 3.8 billion (USD 441.4 million, EUR 382.5 million) was also sold, up 89 percent and 59 percent, respectively.

Poland, Lithuania, and Germany have offered the main markets for Norwegian herring this year, while China, Japan, and South Korea have been the largest takers of its mackerel.

With regards to its crab, Norway has so far exported 1,900 MT of king crab, worth NOK 789 million (USD 91.7 million, EUR 79.4 million), representing a volume increase of 36 percent and a value rise of 71 percent. South Korea, Hong Kong, and the United States have been the trade’s largest markets.

The country has also shipped 4,400 MT of snow crab, worth NOK 810 million (USD 94.1 million, EUR 81.5 million), with the volume up 138 percent and the value rising 202 percent. The United States, Denmark, and Japan have been the main markets for this product.

Norway’s shrimp trade has also grown this year, with 10,600 MT of the crustaceans generating revenues of NOK 686 million (USD 79.7 million, EUR 69.1 million), up 22 percent and 3 percent respectively. Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Finland have provided the largest markets.

In 2020, Norway’s seafood exports totaled 2.7 million MT, worth NOK 105.7 billion (USD 12.3 billion, EUR 10.6 billion) – the second-highest annual trade value in the country’s history. 

Photo courtesy of TemporalStreet/Shutterstock

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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