NORWEGIAN seafood exports got off to a flying start in January despite coronavirus affecting business with China during the final week of the month.
Overseas sales totalled 207,000 tonnes, the same as January 2019, but they increased in value by 15 per cent or NOK 1.2 billion (£100 million) to NOK 9.8 billion (£819 million), undoubtedly reflecting the New Year surge in salmon prices.
Once again, salmon was the star performer with exports rising by three per cent to 88,000 tonnes, but the value soaring by 21 per cent to NOK 6.8 billion (£568 million).
Paul T. Aandahl, seafood analyst at the Norwegian Seafood Council, said: ‘Demand for Norwegian salmon rose sharply in January.
‘There was strong growth in value for all regions, with a 22 per cent increase in value to the EU, 20 per cent to Asia and 23 per cent to North America.
‘In volume terms, there is a slight decline, of three per cent, to Asia. We see this decline primarily in relation to the shift of Chinese New Year compared to last year’s celebration.’
The average price for fresh whole salmon in January was NOK 75.86 per kilo, compared to NOK 62.44 per kilo 12 months earlier. Poland, France and Denmark continue to make up the largest salmon markets.
Commenting on the coronavirus crisis, Victoria Braathen, the Seafood Council’s fisheries envoy to China, said: ‘Most of fresh salmon to China is consumed in food service. As residents are being encouraged to stay home because of the outbreak, restaurant demand is being affected.
‘One possible effect in the time of limited outdoor activity is a shift toward increased home consumption.’
On the general picture, Tom-Jørgen Gangsø, the council’s director of market insight and market access, said demand for Norwegian salmon was increasing in all regions, and the average price was considerably higher than a year ago.
He added: ‘For white fish, increased volumes and prices of fresh products has contributed to value growth.
‘We also see that there is a value increase for trout, herring and mackerel. Value growth is also due to a weak Norwegian krone against important currencies.’
Trout exports totalled 5,700 tonnes, worth NOK 356 million (almost £30 million). Volumes were up by 45 per cent, while value increased by NOK 94 million, or 36 per cent, with the United States, Thailand and the Ukraine the main markets.
Thanks to strong demand, fresh cod exports were up by 32 per cent in volume but rose by a dramatic 46 per cent in value to NOK 328 million (£28 million). But frozen cod exports were down in both value and volume.
Shrimp sales also fell but king crab held its own during the month. Pelagic species such as herring and mackerel performed well in value terms, said the Seafood Council.