NORWAY’S seafood industry enjoyed its best ever year in 2019 with export sales hitting a record 107.3 billion kroner – or £9.25 billion – despite slightly lower volumes.
And it is clear that aquaculture, and farmed salmon in particular, is the big money spinner, delivering more than two thirds or NOK 76.5 billion (£6.6 billion) of that total.
It is also clear that had salmon prices not dipped during the summer, the total would have been even more impressive.
Tom-Jørgen Gangsø, director of market insight and market access at the Norwegian Seafood Council, said: ‘We have seen an increase in prices for several of our most important commercial species, in addition to the weak Norwegian krone and market access being relatively good.
‘In short, this has led to strong demand and higher prices for Norwegian seafood.’
The council’s CEO, Renate Larsen, added: ‘Consumers all over the world want healthy, sustainable food with good taste, and it answers Norwegian seafood in a very good way. Both the aquaculture and fisheries sectors have contributed to a record high export value for 2019.’
The relationship between aquaculture and fisheries has changed little from last year. The value from aquaculture was 71 per cent of total sales, while the volume was less than half at 44.6 per cent. The value rose by eight per cent or NOK 5.6 billion.
Conventional fishing accounted for 29 per cent or NOK 30.8 billion (up 10 per cent on 2018) of the total seafood export value and 55.4 per cent in volume (down 10 per cent), reflecting a sharp increase in cod prices.
Salmon netted the largest revenues at NOK 72.5 billion (almost £6.3 billion) on volumes of 1.1 million tonnes, up in value by seven per cent and six per cent higher in volume.
Analyst Paul T. Aandahl said: ‘In 2019, we saw significant growth in seafood trade between Norway and China. Led by a doubling in the export of fresh salmon, this represents a value increase of NOK 1.5 billion.’
Trout is the second major aquaculture species. In 2019, some 59,600 tonnes of trout were exported with a value of NOK 3.7 billion. Volume increased by 29 per cent, while value increased by NOK 707 million, or 24 per cent from 2018.
‘In the big picture, the trout price follows the price of salmon. That is why the price of trout remained at almost the same level as in 2018, despite relatively large volume growth,’ Aandahl added.
For the catching sector, cod was the largest species measured in value. Cod exports totalled 181,000 tonnes, while the value was NOK 10.1 billion.
The volume fell by eight per cent, while the value increased by NOK 660 million, or seven per cent.
Analyst Ingrid K. Pettersen said: ‘The reason for the decline in the export volume for cod has been reduced quotas since the peak year 2013.
‘A significant rise in prices for all the major cod products is therefore an important reason for the growth in value.
‘The fall in volume, well helped by a weak Norwegian krone and growth in demand, explains the price increase.’
Hans Frode Kielland Asmyhr, the Norwegian Seafood council’s envoy to Britain, said: ‘In the UK, there has been significant demand growth for Norwegian sea frozen cod throughout the year, and we clearly see that the market is willing to pay more for the quality offered by Norwegian exporters.’
Haddock sales were worth five per cent more at NOK 1.8 billion.
Mackerel exports also enjoyed a bumper year and were worth NOK 4.3 billion, a rise of 12 per cent, while shrimp (prawn) exports brought in NOK 1.1 billion, a rise of over 30 per cent. King crab at NOK 642 million was another big seller for the shellfish sector.