Soaring salmon trade ensures record July earnings for Norway’s seafood exporters

Published on
August 7, 2019

Norwegian seafood companies exported 164,000 metric tons (MT) of fisheries and aquaculture products worth NOK 7.8 billion (USD 876.2 million, EUR 782.5 million) last month. While this volume was 6 percent lower than in July 2018, the value was 11 percent or NOK 768 million (USD 86.3 million, EUR 77 million) more than a year previously.

So far this year, the Scandinavian country has exported 1.4 million MT of seafood worth NOK 59 billion (USD 6.6 billion, EUR 5.9 billion), with volume down 11 percent but value up 7 percent or NOK 3.9 billion (USD 438.1 million, EUR 391.2 million) year-on-year. 

The Norwegian Seafood Council (NSC) attributes much of July’s strong performance to the increases in salmon volumes and prices.

“Seafood exports fluctuate with the seasons and normally July is our weakest export month. For fishery exports, July 2019 was our second highest July month ever, with an export value of NOK 1.7 billion (USD 190.9 million, EUR 170.5 million). This is 5 percent higher than last year, and just 0.5 percent less than July 2015, a record year for the fisheries sector,” said Paul T. Aandahl, seafood analyst with the NSC. “For aquaculture, exports totaled NOK 6.2 billion (USD 696.5 million, EUR 621.9 million), which is also a record for the month of July. Seventy-eight percent of total seafood exports in July came from aquaculture,” 

Around 90,700 MT of salmon products with a value of NOK 5.8 billion (USD 651.5 million, EUR 581.8 million) were exported last month, with the volume and value up 4 percent and 11 percent respectively. To date, Norway has exported 595,000 MT of salmon, earning NOK 40.3 billion (USD 4.5 billion, EUR 4 billion). This volume represents an increase of 4 percent, while the export value has risen by 7 percent or NOK 2.5 billion (USD 280.8 million, EUR 250.8 million), compared to the corresponding period of 2018.

The average price for whole fresh salmon last month was NOK 59.55 (USD 6.69, EUR 5.97) per kilogram, compared with NOK 56.38 (USD 6.33, EUR 5.65) in July last year. Poland, France, and Denmark provided the largest markets for these products.

“Demand for salmon continues to increase. The largest growth has been in exports to Asia. This is mainly driven by improved access to the Chinese market. This has led Norwegian exporters to be better able to exploit the potential that exists in this market,” Aandahl said.

With July exports of 5,114 MT worth NOK 304 million (USD 34.1 million, EUR 30.5 million), Norway’s trout trade for the year to date increased to 29,700 MT worth NOK 2 billion (USD 224.6 million, EUR 200.6 million), representing a 23 percent increase in both volume and value.

In the whitefish sector, with quotas down on last year, Norway last month exported 1,400 MT of fresh cod products valued at NOK 71 million (USD 8 million, EUR 7.1 million), with the volume and value 47 percent and 17 percent lower than in July 2018, respectively. In the first seven months of 2019, Norway exported 41,100 MT of fresh cod worth NOK 1.8 billion (USD 202.2 million, EUR 180.5 million), down 23 percent in volume and 8 percent in value.

However, Ingrid K. Pettersen, also an analyst with the NSC, highlighted that according to the Norwegian Fishermen’s Sales Organization, Norwegian fishermen have never been better paid for cod than in July 2019, which was also reflected in the export prices. 

Pettersen said the price of fresh whole cod last month was 32 percent or approximately NOK 9.50 (USD 1.07, EUR 0.95) per kilogram higher than in July last year. Fresh fillets have also increased in price. 

“The low export volumes of fresh whole cod, in addition to a favorable currency situation, may explain the rise in prices,” she said.

Norway also exported 4,400 MT of frozen cod valued at NOK 181 million (USD 20.3 million, EUR 18.2 million) last month, with the volume and value rising by 13 percent and 18 percent respectively. So far this year, Norway has exported 44,600 MT of frozen cod for NOK 1.9 billion (USD 213.4 million, EUR 190.5 million), which is a volume increase of 4 percent and a value rise of 21 percent year-on-year.

In the pelagic trade, Norway exported 13,700 MT of herring worth NOK 185 million (USD 20.8 million, EUR 18.6 million), and 6,600 MT of mackerel with a value of NOK 118 million (USD 13.3 million, EUR 11.8 million) last month. To date, 169,000 MT of herring worth NOK 1.5 billion (USD 168.4 million, EUR 150.4 million) and 88,000 MT of mackerel also worth NOK 1.5 billion have been shipped to overseas markets, with all volumes and values up on the corresponding period of last year.

NSC’s data also found that 241 MT of king crab with a value of NOK 68 million (USD 7.6 million, EUR 6.8 million) were exported last month, and that the volume and value for the January through July period has increased to 1,000 MT and NOK 333 million (USD 37.4 million, EUR 33.4 million). 

Furthermore, some 390 MT of snow crab worth NOK 55 million (USD 6.2 million, EUR 5.5 million) was exported last month, representing increases of 236 percent and 244 percent respectively. So far this year, Norway has exported 1,800 MT of snow crab for NOK 244 million (USD 27.4 million, EUR 24.5 million), which is a 146 percent rise in volume and a value jump of 151 percent or NOK 147 million (USD 16.5 million, EUR 14.7 million). 

“There are a number of boats that are now doing well with snow crab fishing. This season has seen a lot of fishing, with a high proportion exported as frozen goods to Asian markets in July. The demand for Norwegian crabs in Asia is high, and the snow crab helps to meet this demand,” said Frank Isaksen, chief analyst with the NSC.

Photo courtesy of Norwegian Seafood Council

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

 Twitter at @SeafoodGuruSome

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