Salmon, herring keep Norwegian seafood exporters on course for bumper year

Published on
November 4, 2021
Norway's strong herring sales helped the country increase its export value in October 2021.

Norway exported seafood worth NOK 12.1 billion (USD 1.38 billion, EUR 1.21 billion) to overseas markets last month, an increase of 6 percent, or NOK 636 million (USD 74.8 million, EUR 64.6 million), over October 2020. The monthly tally puts the country's total seafood-export value for the first 10 months of 2021 roughly NOK 8.5 billion (USD 1 billion, EUR 862.9 million) ahead of where it was at the same stage last year.

According to the Norwegian Seafood Council (NSC), the increase has been helped by an expansion in Norway's total number of export markets, with seafood sent to 115 different countries last month, compared with 97 on October 2011.

"This trend shows how robust Norwegian seafood is as a global commodity. This is despite the krone exchange rate strengthening by around 10 percent against the euro and the dollar," NSC CEO Renate Larsen said. "That export value is still so high only confirms how strong demand is now."

In product terms, Larsen said salmon and herring led October’s export-value increase.

"Salmon accounted for 66 percent of the total seafood exports this month, while the export value for herring in October is the highest single month in over 10 years,” she said.

While October's salmon-export volume decreased by 1 percent to 118,334 metric tons (MT), the value increased by 14 percent, or NOK 921 million (USD 108.3 million, EUR 93.5 million), to NOK 7.4 billion (USD 870.4 million, EUR 751.2 million) compared to October 2020. Poland, France, and Denmark were Norway's largest markets for salmon.

Norway also exported 5,600 MT of trout worth NOK 363 million (USD 42.7 million, EUR 36.8 million) in October, with the volume and value falling 19 percent and 1 percent respectively. Belarus, Japan, and the United States provided Norway's largest trout markets.

Norway's pelagic sector exported almost 50,000 MT of herring in October, valued at NOK 661 million (USD 77.7 million, EUR 67.1 million), with the volume up 62 percent year-over-year and the value increasing by 69 percent.

"October was a solid export month for herring. We have to go back to 2011 to find higher export value in a single month,” NSC Pelagic Species Manager Jan Eirik Johnsen said. “The increased quota for Norwegian spring-spawning herring and earlier autumn season are essential reasons why the volume in October is higher than last year and previous years.”

Johnsen said the COVID-19 pandemic has led to increased herring consumption, which is reflected in global demand.

"Usually, the prices will fall with increased supply, but this year we see that they have improved on all herring products, which gives a significant increase in value,” he said.

At the same time, Norway sold 56,900 MT of mackerel worth NOK 853 million (USD 100.3 million, EUR 86.6 million), down 23 percent and 29 percent, respectively. However, 2021 is proving a record year for Norwegian mackerel, with the export value up 31 percent year-to-date, to NOK 4.7 billion (USD 552.8 million, EUR 477.1 million), based on an all-time high volume of 321,000 MT.

Egypt, Germany, and Poland offered the largest markets for Norwegian herring in October, while Japan, South Korea, and China were the main markets for the country’s mackerel.

From its whitefish sector, Norway exported 1,700 MT of fresh cod in October, earning NOK 83 million (USD 9.8 million, EUR 8.4 million), down 9 percent and 1 percent, respectively, with Denmark, Sweden, and Spain offering the main markets.

Some 4,200 MT of frozen cod, worth NOK 195 million (USD 22.9 million, EUR 19.8 million) was also exported, down 18 percent in volume, and 13 percent in value. The United Kingdom, China, and the United States were the top markets for Norway's cod.

Norway exported 100 MT of king crab in October, worth NOK 44 million (USD 5.2 million, EUR 4.5 million), representing a volume decrease of 59 percent and a value drop of 43 percent. France, the United States, and Canada were the product’s largest markets.

With its snow crab quota fished in July, the country exported just 2 MT of the product, valued at NOK 640,000 (USD 75,276, EUR 64,978).

Norway’s shrimp trade also fell last month, with 792 MT of the crustaceans generating revenues of NOK 61 million (USD 7.2 million, EUR 6.2 million), down 38 percent and 33 percent, respectively. Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Denmark provided the largest markets for the product.

Collectively, the Scandinavian country’s seafood exports for the first 10 months of 2021 totaled NOK 95.9 billion (USD 11.3 billion, EUR 9.7 billion), 8 percent higher than the same period of 2020.

“The government has a goal of increasing exports, excluding oil and gas, by at least 50 percent by 2030,” Norway Minister of Fisheries and Marine Affairs Bjørnar Skjæran, who was named to the role in October, said. “Here, seafood exports will be a significant contributor, and the record figures for October show that the industry is well on its way. We expect a new record year. The government will facilitate further growth to create more secure full-time jobs in coastal communities, more processing, greater value-creation and increased export revenues.”  

Photo courtesy of SviatlanaLaza/Shutterstock

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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