Record first-quarter revenues for Norway’s seafood exporters, but volume plummets

Published on
April 4, 2019

Norway exported 640,000 metric tons (MT) of fisheries and aquaculture products worth a record NOK 25.6 billion (USD 3 billion, EUR 2.7 billion) in the first quarter of this year. While the volume represented a decline of 18 percent, the value was 7 percent or NOK 1.8 billion (USD 210.6 million, EUR 187.3 million), higher than in the corresponding period of 2018. 

The Norwegian Seafood Council (NSC) highlighted that the volume drop would be just 2 percent if the pelagic category is excluded from the statistics. 

“The volume decline in the pelagic category is due to lack of capelin this year, in addition to delays in the reporting of blue whiting from direct landings abroad,” Paul Aandahl, analyst with the NSC, said.

Fellow NSC analyst Ingrid Pettersen confirmed that the value of seafood exports in the first quarter reached a record high, and this was mainly driven by increased prices for some of the country’s most important species. 

“There are good, stable market conditions, increased demand in our key markets, and a weak Norwegian kroner against both the U.S. dollar and the euro sets a record price for seafood exports,” she said.

The Scandinavian country exported 247,000 MT of salmon with a value of NOK 16.7 billion (USD 2 billion, EUR 1.7 billion) in Q1 2019, with the volume and value up 1 percent and 7 percent respectively year-on-year. The average price for fresh whole salmon through the quarter was NOK 68.78 (USD 8.05, EUR 7.16) per kilogram, up from NOK 67.45 (USD 7.89, EUR 7.02).

Poland, France, and Denmark were the largest export markets for Norwegian salmon in the first-quarter. The NSC also pointed to a 5 percent lift in E.U. exports and a 20 percent rise in U.S. exports compared with the same period of last year. 

The export value of fresh salmon filets to the United States increased by 58 percent, which was driven by a volume growth of 13 percent and a price climb of 40 percent, said Aandahl.

“[The] growth in exports of fillet products, especially to the U.S. market, have led to processed salmon now accounting for 20 percent of the export value for salmon, compared with 18 percent in the first-quarter of 2018,” Aandahl said.  “At the same time, the dollar has risen 10 percent against the Norwegian kroner compared to its level during the same period in 2018, which favors dollar-market exports, compared with exports to euro markets.” 

Also in the salmonid sector, Norway exported 11,100 MT of trout worth NOK 775 million (USD 90.7 million, EUR 80.6 million) during Q1 2019, with the volume and value 13 percent and 22 percent higher than a year previously. The United States, Belarus, and Thailand provided the largest markets for Norwegian trout over the three months.

“In much the same way as we have seen for salmon, exports of filleted trout products have risen. The export volume of fresh trout fillets increased by 176 percent, and frozen trout fillet exports increased by 147 percent. Processed trout now accounts for 32 percent of the total export value, compared with just 19 percent in 2018,” Aandahl said. 

In terms of whitefish, the country exported 25,200 MT of fresh cod, including skrei, with a value of NOK 1.1 billion (USD 128.7 million, EUR 114.4 million). As such, the volume and value were 22 percent and 9 percent lower than in Q1 2018. Pettersen explained that the reduced quotas and a prolonged period of bad weather meant that less raw material was brought to market. 

The exception was with exports of fresh, whole skrei. With one month left in the current season, skrei exports have already surpassed 2018’s totals.

Skrei’s current market price is NOK 45.30 (USD 5.30, EUR 4.71) per kilogram, which is the same price that fresh whole salmon achieved four or five years ago. 

“This shows that once again Norwegian products have managed to differentiate themselves in the market and provides evidence that good quality is valued,” she said. 

With regards to pelagics, in Q1 this year Norway exported 106,000 MT (up 20 percent) of herring worth NOK 851 million (USD 99.6 million, EUR 88.5 million), an increase of 13 percent; and 51,300 MT of mackerel (up 1 percent) with a value of NOK 861 million (USD 100.7 million, EUR 89.6 million), an increase of 32 percent.

NSC’s data also finds that 522 MT of king crab with a value of NOK 159 million (USD 18.6 million, EUR 16.5 million) were exported in the three-month period, with the volume and value up 17 percent and 27 percent on Q1 2018. At the same time, 3,600 MT of shrimp (up 81 percent) worth NOK 269 million (USD 31.5 million, EUR 28 million), an increase of 63 percent, were sold overseas. 

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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