Record earnings in March boost Norwegian seafood exporters in Q1

Published on
April 9, 2021

Norway’s seafood sector sold NOK 10.9 billion (USD 1.3 billion, EUR 1.1 billion) worth of fisheries and aquaculture products to overseas markets last month, an increase of 13.5 percent compared with March 2020.

The record March contributed to total first-quarter 2021 sales of NOK 27.7 billion (USD 3.3 billion, EUR 2.8 billion), which represented a decrease of 3 percent or NOK 742 million (USD 87.4 million, EUR 73.7 million) year-on-year.

Much of March’s increased export value and the “solid” year start came from the salmon trade, the Norwegian Seafood Council (NSC) confirmed.

In total, Norwegian producers exported 297,200 metric tons (MT) of salmon products worth NOK 18 billion (USD 2.1 billion, EUR 1.8 billion) in the first quarter, with the volume up by 18 percent and the value down by 4 percent year-on-year.

In the first three months of the year, the average price for fresh whole salmon fell from NOK 69.00 (USD 8.13, EUR 6.85) to NOK 54.43 (USD 6.41, EUR 5.41) per kilogram, with Poland, France, and the United States providing Norway’s largest markets.

"2021 has given us the second-best result in history for seafood exports in the first quarter. Nevertheless, we must acknowledge that there are still challenging times for parts of the industry. This especially applies to cod products, such as fresh cod and clipfish,” NSC CEO Renate Larsen said.

Larsen also pointed out that unlike in 2020, the country’s seafood exports have not benefitted from a weak Norwegian krone this year, with the currency strengthening against the euro and U.S. dollar.

"Although Norwegian seafood has become more expensive for buyers, there have been large volumes and relatively strong demand for salmon, herring, and king crab products in the first quarter,” she said.

Also in the salmonid sector, Norway exported 12,100 MT of trout worth NOK 751 million (USD 88.6 million, EUR 74.6 million) in Q1 2021, with both the volume and value falling 22 percent year-on-year. However, the reduced volume led to whole fresh trout achieving a higher average price than salmon at NOK 58.54 (USD 6.90, EUR 5.82) per kilogram. The United States, Belarus, and Japan provided Norway’s largest trout markets.

In regard to its whitefish sector, Norway exported 29,200 MT of fresh cod in the opening three months, earning NOK 1.1 billion (USD 129.6 million, EUR 109.3 million). While the volume was up 27 percent, the value was on par with Q1 2020. Denmark, Poland, and the Netherlands were the largest recipients of fresh Norwegian cod.

Also in the quarter, 25,400 MT of frozen cod worth NOK 975 million (USD 115 million, EUR 96.9 million) was exported, up 10 percent in volume and down 9 percent in value year-on-year – with China, the United Kingdom, and Lithuania offering the main markets.

The NSC also highlighted that there is still a shift toward more frozen cod being exported to Europe at the expense of Asia, with its figures finding that as much as 67 percent of the frozen cod went to Europe, compared with 60 percent in the first-quarter of last year.

It also acknowledged that exports of frozen cod to the U.K. market had not appeared to be affected by Brexit.

“Exports of frozen cod to the United Kingdom and France increased by more than 500 MT in the first-quarter of 2021. This corresponds to an increase of 37 and 21 percent, respectively,” NSC Marine Analyst Eivind Hestvik Brækkan said.

Norway’s pelagic trade exported 121,000 MT of herring valued at NOK 1.3 billion (USD 153.2 million, EUR 129.2 million) in the quarter, with the volume up 15 percent on last year and the value increasing by 19 percent. At the same time, 89,700 MT of mackerel worth NOK 1.4 billion (USD 165 million, EUR 139.1 million) was shipped, up 10 percent and 1 percent, respectively.

With an increase in the Norwegian spring-spawning herring (NVG) quota of 24 percent, the NSC had expected prices to come under pressure, but instead found that the increased demand in many markets during the pandemic had helped to drive them upwards.

A similar trend was seen in the mackerel trade, the council said.

The country also achieved increased overseas sales of king crab in the quarter with 701 MT of product earning NOK 249 million (USD 29.3 million, EUR 24.7 million), while its shrimp trade moved in the opposite direction with totals of 2,900 MT and NOK 221 million (USD 26 million, EUR 22 million).

In 2020, Norway exported some 2.7 million MT of seafood worth NOK 105.7 billion (USD 12.5 billion, EUR 10.5 billion) – the second-highest trade value in the country’s history. 

Photo courtesy of Grigorev Mikhail/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