Norwegian salmon exports surge despite coronavirus

Norwegian Seafood Council analyst Paul Aandahl

NORWEGIAN seafood exports last month defied all coronavirus gloom predictions and rose in value by 1.4 billion kroner (£118 million), with farmed salmon showing a particularly strong surge.

Many analysts had expected the sector to take a hit because China, one of the fastest growing markets for seafood, was in almost total lockdown during February.

But overseas sales totalled NOK 9.3 billion (£784 million), a rise of 17 per cent. The volume total was 216,000 tonnes.

Tom-Jørgen Gangsø, director of market insight and market access at the Norwegian Seafood Council, said: ‘Despite increased uncertainty in the world\’s seafood markets as a result of the focus on Covid-19, demand for Norwegian seafood continues to increase overall.

‘The greatest value growth was for salmon. Salmon has been very robust against the temporary reduction in demand in individual markets.

‘The reason is that salmon is exported to over 100 markets, is used for many different occasions and is available in many product forms.’

He added: ‘The export of white fish contributes most to this month\’s growth, driven by both currency (fluctuations) and demand.’

There was a significant increase in the value of salmon exports. The country sold 81,100 tonnes, worth NOK 5.9 billion (£498 million), in February.

This represents a one per cent increase in volume but a 16 per cent – or NOK 817 million – rise in revenue.

More significantly, the average price for fresh whole salmon was NOK 68.99 per kg against NOK 58.87 per kilo 12 months ago.

Poland, France and the United States were the largest recipients of salmon from Norway in February.

Paul T. Aandahl, seafood analyst at the Norwegian Seafood Council, said: ‘As expected, we are seeing a sharp decline in salmon exports to China.

‘In February, 363 tonnes of salmon were exported to China, a decline of 83 per cent compared to the same period last year. Although there is a large decline, we are now seeing a gradual increase in volume.’

Aandahl added: ‘Salmon that would otherwise have gone to China has been exported to other markets.

‘For example, we see growth of 22 per cent for fresh whole salmon to the United States, and sales to Taiwan increased by 73 per cent.’

But sales to Italy, the European country most affected by Covid-19, fell by 14 per cent.

There are also signs that China is slowly beginning to return to normal. Victoria Braathen, the Norwegian Seafood Council\’s fisheries envoy to China, reports: ‘Over the past couple of weeks, we have seen cautious steps towards increased activity, which we hope will lay the foundation for gradually increased demand in food service and restaurants.’

Farmed trout exports were also up last month, rising by 39 per cent in volume to 4,900 tonnes, but 24 per cent in value to NOK 302 million.

Aandahl explained: ‘In the big picture, it is fresh Norwegian salmon that controls the world market price for salmon fish.

‘However, strong growth in trout production has led to lower prices for trout than for salmon. In February.’

White fish such as cod and haddock also performed well. Fresh cod exports totalled 8,900 tonnes (up four per cent) but surged by 13 per cent in value to NOK 404 million.

Frozen cod sales increased by 16 per cent in volume to 8,200 tonnes and by 27 per cent in value to NOK 377 million. Sales of mackerel and herring also increased last month, but shrimp exports fell by 12 per cent.



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