Record February for Norwegian seafood exports

Published on
March 7, 2022
Norwegian salmon sitting on ice in a fish market.

Despite the recent discontinuation of its exports to Ukraine in the wake of Russia's invasion, Norway’s seafood industry managed to ship NOK 11.3 billion (USD 1.3 billion, EUR 1.1 billion) worth of products to overseas markets last month, the highest February value in the country’s history.

Compared with February 2021, the increase in value was 30 percent, or NOK 2.6 billion (USD 291.8 million, EUR 263.7 million). Poland provided Norway’s top market, buying 21,200 metric tons (MT) of seafood valued at NOK 1.1 billion (USD 123.4 million, EUR 111.5 million). Norway's exports of fresh cod achieved their highest-ever value, while whole fresh salmon prices received soared to an average NOK 82.64 (USD 9.27, EUR 8.38) per kilogram.

Norwegian Seafood Council CEO Renate Larsen said the new record February was overshadowed by the conflict in Ukraine.

“The dramatic situation affects us first and foremost strongly on the human level, but also affects the flow of seafood,” she said. “After Russia's invasion of the country a week ago, seafood exports to Ukraine have stopped. This means that products such as salmon, trout, herring, and mackerel that were to go to this country must now be sold to other markets.”

Up until its Ukraine trade stopped, Norway had exported seafood worth NOK 176 million (USD 19.7 million, EUR 17.8 million) to the market in the month of February.

Larsen said other, related sanctions on Russia are affecting the trade in seafood.

“This entails several logistical challenges. Many airlines have, among other things, been banned from flying over Russia in recent times. This affects the flow of goods to Asia, especially for fresh and live products,” she said.

In February, Norway exported 89,700 MT of farmed Atlantic salmon, worth NOK 7.8 billion (USD 874.9 million, EUR 790.7 million), with its export volume falling 5 percent and its value increasing 47 percent compared with the corresponding month of 2021.

Poland, France, and the United States offered the largest markets for the species, with the share of salmon exports to the European Union falling from 67 percent to 60 percent.

“The market for salmon is still growing, even though the pandemic has not yet subsided. Lower volumes in combination with increased demand have led to record prices,” NSC Seafood Analyst Paul Aandahl said.

Norway also exported 4,000 MT of trout worth NOK 328 million (USD 36.8 million, EUR 33.2 million), with the volume and value rising 2 percent and 38 percent, respectively. The United States, Thailand, and Belarus provided the largest trout markets.

Ukraine sourced NOK 20 million (USD 2.2 million, EUR 2 million) worth of Norwegian trout in February 2022.

From its whitefish sector, Norway shipped a total of 10,100 MT of fresh cod in February, earning NOK 482 million (USD 54 million, EUR 48.9 million), with the volume sliding 7 percent and the value climbing 18 percent. Denmark, the Netherlands, and Portugal were its top three markets.

At the same time, 7,700 MT of frozen cod, worth NOK 347 million (USD 38.9 million, EUR 35.2 million), was sold overseas, with the volume and value rising 15 percent and 37 percent, respectively, compared to February 2021. China, the United Kingdom, and the United States were Norway's top frozen cod markets.

Norway's pelagic sector exported 32,600 MT of herring, valued at NOK 392 million (USD 44 million, EUR 39.2 million), with export volume and value down 40 percent and 26 percent, respectively. Norway sold 25,100 MT of mackerel worth NOK 490 million (USD 54.9 million, EUR 49.7 million), representing a decrease in volume of 14 percent and a rise in value of 9 percent.

Poland, Egypt, and Lithuania offered the largest markets for Norwegian herring last month; while South Korea, China, and Japan were the main markets for the country’s mackerel.

Poor weather, purse-seine boats engaged in capelin fishing in Iceland, and a lower quota for Norwegian spring-spawning herring are the main reasons for the lower-than-usual herring catches, NSC said

NSC said the average price of exported mackerel in February ended at NOK 19.50 (USD 2.19, EUR 1.98) per kilogram, which was the highest export price achieved by the product in a single month.

Norway’s shellfish sector exported 154 MT of king crab worth NOK 92 million (USD 10.3 million, EUR 9.3 million), representing a volume decrease of 33 percent and a 15 percent higher value. The United States, the Netherlands, and South Korea were the product’s largest markets.

The country also sold 792 MT of snow crab worth NOK 164 million (USD 18.4 million, EUR 16.6 million), up 152 percent and 247 percent, respectively. This was alongside 1,100 MT of shrimp with a value of NOK 73 million (USD 8.2 million, EUR 7.4 million), with the volume and value rising by 31 percent and 13 percent.

In 2021, Norway exported a record 3.1 million MT of seafood worth NOK 120.8 billion (USD 13.5 billion, EUR 12.2 billion).

Photo courtesy of joyfull/Shutterstock

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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