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Photo: Norwegian Seafood Council
Photo: Norwegian Seafood Council

Press release -

Best first half-year of all time for Norwegian seafood exports

The export value of Norwegian seafood has never been higher in the first half of the year than in 2021. In the first six months of the year, Norway exported seafood worth NOK 53.7 billion. This represents a growth in value of just over 1 per cent, or NOK 646 million, when measured against the first half of last year.

"Despite a strengthened Norwegian krone and the fact that the markets are still affected by the corona pandemic, the first half of the year has been the best ever for seafood exports when measured by value. Strong demand for healthy, safe and sustainable Norwegian seafood is the most important reason why we are experiencing another export record", says Renate Larsen, CEO of the Norwegian Seafood Council.

Demand for seafood from Norway

"This is fantastic news for seafood exports. Not only are we well ahead of the strong half-year we saw in 2019, but this is also the best half-year ever for seafood exports so far. Not even the worldwide pandemic has prevented an increase in demand for, and exports of Norwegian seafood. This is cause to be proud while acknowledging that a lot of hard work lies behind these successes. We have an adaptable industry with good people working at all levels. I have great faith that there will be even more opportunities for the sector when society reopens fully", says Odd Emil Ingebrigtsen, Minister of Fisheries and Seafood.

Growth in restaurant visits

During the corona pandemic, domestic seafood consumption has increased. When the restaurants reopen, this could give a further boost to seafood.

"In the markets that are reopening, we see strong growth in restaurant visits, at a significantly higher level than before the pandemic, making us optimistic about the future, says Renate Larsen, CEO of the Norwegian Seafood Council.

South Korea sees the most substantial increase in export value.

Exports to South Korea have had the most significant value growth in the first half of the year. The total increase was NOK 358 million to NOK 1.9 billion. Salmon, mackerel and king crab are the species that have increased the most in this market.

"South Korea is an exciting growth market and is embracing Norwegian seafood like never before. In the first half of 2021, several supermarket chains have run large national campaigns for Norwegian salmon and mackerel, contributing to a sharp growth in demand. The increase in seafood sales is from both traditional retail and online stores. In some grocery chains, online shopping of Norwegian mackerel accounts for up to 30 per cent of turnover", says Renate Larsen, CEO of the Norwegian Seafood Council.

A boom for shellfish

The most significant value growth has been for the crustacean product category. Growth in the first half of the year was NOK 698 million, against a total export value of NOK 1.7 billion.

"June was the best single month ever for Norwegian shellfish, marking a solid end to the best half-year run ever. Snow crab and king crab have seen outstanding value growth, but also smaller categories such as crayfish and brown crab have broken all previous records for the first half of the year, says Renate Larsen.

Challenging for cod

Although Norwegian seafood exports are generally doing very well, some species and categories also face demanding market conditions. Cod has experienced the most significant decline in export value in the first half of the year, with a fall of 8 per cent, or NOK 441 million, compared to last year.

In line with the half-year figures, seafood exports also show a record in June:

  • Seafood exports totalled NOK 9 billion.
  • There is an increase in value of 6 per cent, or NOK 496 million, compared with June last year.

Salmon growth

  • Norway exported 562,000 tonnes of salmon for NOK 35.3 billion in the first half of the year.
  • There is an increase in the volume of 12 per cent.
  • Export value increased by NOK 416 million, or just over 1 per cent, compared with the first half of last year.
  • The average price for fresh whole salmon fell from NOK 64.96 to NOK 58.30 per kg.
  • Poland, France and the USA were the largest export markets for salmon from Norway in the first half of the year.

"Italy has shown considerable growth for salmon in the first half of the year. Connected with the gradual easing of measures against the corona pandemic compared to the first half of 2020. Increased home consumption, growth in the takeaway segment and a gradual reopening of the restaurant sector are the reasons for the positive figures", says Paul T. Aandahl, Seafood Analyst with the Norwegian Seafood Council.

Salmon exports in June have shown a positive development compared with the same month last year:

  • Exports totalled 98,500 tonnes of salmon worth NOK 6.3 billion.
  • There is an increase in the volume of 19 per cent.
  • Export value increased by NOK 596 million, or 10 per cent, compared with June last year.

Trout exports decline

  • Norway exported 25,000 tonnes of trout for NOK 1.6 billion in the first half of the year.
  • Export volume fell by 20 per cent.
  • Export value fell by NOK 253 million, or 14 per cent, compared with the first half of last year.
  • The average price for fresh whole trout increased from NOK 54.30 to NOK 59.51 in the first half of the year.
  • The USA, Belarus and Ukraine were the largest markets for Norwegian trout in the first half of the year.

On average, the price for fresh trout was NOK 1.21 higher than for fresh salmon in the first half of the year.

"Reduced production is the key reason for the decline in the value of trout. The decrease in volume is also why trout prices have risen compared to salmon. Fresh trout increased the export price by 10 per cent in the first half of the year, while fresh salmon reduced the price by 10 per cent", says Paul T. Aandahl, Seafood Analyst with the Norwegian Seafood Council.

The value of trout exports declined in June, so following the half-year trend;

  • 4,900 tonnes of trout were exported to a value of NOK 320 million.
  • Export volume fell by 21 per cent.
  • Export value fell by NOK 11 million, or 3 per cent, compared with June last year.

Demanding market conditions for cod

  • The export value of cod in the first half of the year totalled NOK 5.27 billion.
  • This represents a decrease of 8 per cent, or NOK 441 million, compared to 2020.

Cod is the species that has seen the most significant decline in export value in the first half of the year. Export value is almost equally split between fresh, frozen, and conventional (salted fish, clipfish and stockfish) varieties, with NOK 1.764 billion, NOK 1.758 billion, and NOK 1.731 billion.

"A strong growth in volume for fresh cod led to the export value for the first time being higher than both frozen and conventional cod during the first half-year, says Eivind Hestvik Brækkan, Seafood Analyst with the Norwegian Seafood Council.

Growth for fresh cod

  • Norway exported 49,000 tonnes of fresh cod worth NOK 1.8 billion in the first half of the year.
  • This is an increase in the volume of 35 per cent.
  • Export value increased by NOK 139 million, or 9 per cent, compared with the first half of last year.
  • Denmark, Poland and the Netherlands were the largest recipients of fresh cod from Norway in the first half of the year.

"The volume growth in landings of fresh cod has materialized in increased export volume, which has put pressure on prices. While restaurants have still been closed for much of the first half of the year, demand in stores has been good, and new distribution channels have emerged. These factors have helped to compensate for the drop-off from the restaurant and hotel market, and has curbed the fall in prices for fresh cod, says Eivind Hestvik Brækkan, Seafood Analyst with the Norwegian Seafood Council.

Regarding the development in June, the export figures show an increase in both volume and value:

  • 3,500 tonnes of fresh cod were exported worth NOK 131 million.
  • This is a very significant increase in the volume of 135 per cent.
  • Export value increased by NOK 69 million, or 111 per cent, compared with June last year.

Challenges for frozen cod

  • Norway exported 44,300 tonnes of frozen cod worth NOK 1.7 billion in the first half of the year.
  • This represents an increase in the volume of 10 per cent.
  • Export value fell by NOK 146 million, or 8 per cent, compared with the first half of last year.
  • The United Kingdom, China and the Netherlands were the largest recipients of frozen cod in the first half-year.

"In 2021, the shift will continue towards more frozen cod exported to Europe, with lower volumes to Asia. Volume growth to Europe was as high as 24 per cent in the first half of the year, while export volume to Asia fell by 13 per cent. As much as 68 per cent of Norway's export volume of frozen cod went to Europe", says Eivind Hestvik Brækkan, Seafood Analyst with the Norwegian Seafood Council.

Regarding the development in June, the export figures show a decrease in both volume and value:

  • 5,100 tonnes of frozen cod were exported to a total value of NOK 204 million.
  • This marks a decrease in volume of 22 per cent.
  • Export value fell by NOK 74 million, or 27 per cent, compared with June last year.

Large swings for clipfish

  • Norway exported 39,700 tonnes of clipfish worth NOK 1.8 billion in the first half of the year.
  • This is an increase in the volume of 3 per cent.
  • Export value fell by NOK 235 million, or 12 per cent, compared with the first half of last year.
  • Portugal, Brazil and the Dominican Republic were the most important markets for Norwegian clipfish in the first half of the year.

For clipfish, there has been significant variation in export performance between different species. The export volume of cod clipfish, which has the highest price, has decreased by 4 per cent. On the other hand, saithe and ling have a volume growth of 4 and 93 per cent, respectively.

The effects of the corona pandemic

"The impact on tourism and closed restaurants has undoubtedly affected the development of clipfish markets. Export volume to our largest market, Portugal, fell by 7 per cent in the first half of the year and is 13 per cent lower than in 2019. However, we have seen a shift towards more fresh, frozen and salted cod to Portugal in the first half, mainly used for clipfish production in Portugal", says Eivind Hestvik Brækkan, Seafood Analyst with the Norwegian Seafood Council.

Brazil is the only one of the three largest destination markets with volume growth. This is attributed to volume growth in saithe, tusk and ling, while cod clipfish have decreased in volume.

Regarding the development in June, the export figures show a decrease in volume and value:

  • 6,300 tonnes of clipfish worth NOK 302 million were exported.
  • This represents a decrease of 2 per cent in volume.
  • Export value fell by NOK 42 million, or 12 per cent, compared with June last year.

A decline in salted fish exports

  • Norway exported 15,700 tonnes of salted fish worth NOK 725 million in the first half of the year.
  • A decrease in volume of 2 per cent.
  • Export value decreased by NOK 254 million, or 26 per cent, compared with the first half of last year.
  • Portugal, Spain and Greece were the most important markets for Norwegian salted fish in the first half-year.

"More than two-thirds of salted fish exports have gone to our largest salted fish market, Portugal, with an increase in export volume of 6 per cent compared with last year. Despite this, export volumes to Portugal remain 7 per cent lower than in the first half of 2019", says Eivind Hestvik Brækkan, Seafood Analyst with the Norwegian Seafood Council.

June, however, shows an increase in both volume and value:

  • 2,700 tonnes of salted fish worth NOK 124 million were exported.
  • An increase in the volume of 51 per cent.
  • Export value increased by NOK 33 million, or 37 per cent, compared with June last year.

Decrease in the value of stockfish

  • Norway exported 1,800 tonnes of stockfish worth NOK 297 million in the first half of 2021.
  • An increase by volume of 9 per cent.
  • Export value fell by NOK 8 million, or 3 per cent, compared with the first half of last year.
  • Italy, the USA and Nigeria were the most important markets for stockfish of cod in the first half of the year.

"Closures in connection with the corona pandemic and an estimated inventory reduction resulted in a significant volume decline to our largest stockfish market in Italy in 2020. This year, export volumes to Italy have increased in line with a gradual reopening of society. Volume growth of 26 per cent from last year means that so far this year we are on a par with 2019", says Eivind Hestvik Brækkan.

June export figures show a decrease in volume and value:

  • 154 tonnes of stockfish of cod were exported to a value of NOK 23 million.
  • A decrease in volume of 32 per cent.
  • Export value fell by NOK 17 million, or 43 per cent, compared with the first half of last year.

Good prices for herring

  • Norway exported 165,000 tonnes of herring worth NOK 1.8 billion in the first half of the year.
  • Export volume increased by 2 per cent.
  • Value increased by NOK 27 million, or just over 1 per cent, compared with the first half of last year.
  • Poland, Lithuania and Nigeria were the most important markets for Norwegian herring in the first half of 2021.

"At the start of the year, there was great uncertainty related to how the lapse of the MSC certificate and a quota increase of 24 per cent would affect the prices of Norwegian spring-spawning herring. The results show that prices have held up well", says Jan Eirik Johnsen, Responsible for Pelagic Species with the Norwegian Seafood Council.

Smaller catches

Exports of herring roe, a success story last year, have fallen back in the first half of this year.

"This is due to lower catches of roe herring on the Møre coast and so limiting stock available for production. As there will be no fishing for roe-mature North Sea herring in British waters, the total production of herring roe will decrease significantly compared with last year", says Jan Eirik Johnsen.

June export figures show a decrease in both volume and value:

  • 24,300 tonnes of herring were exported with a value of NOK 284 million were exported.
  • A reduction in export volume of 6 per cent.
  • Export value fell by NOK 14 million, or 5 per cent, compared with June last year.

Strong mackerel exports

  • Norway exported 116,500 tonnes of mackerel worth NOK 1.8 billion in the first half of the year.
  • Export volume is at the same level as last year.
  • Value fell by NOK 224 million, or 11 per cent, compared with the first half of last year.
  • South Korea, Vietnam and Japan were the largest markets for Norwegian mackerel in the first half of the year.

There has been a strong mackerel export with the second-highest value and volume in the first half-year. Only the record year 2020 has been better.

Significant growth in South Korea

"The corona pandemic contributed to increased demand for mackerel in important Asian markets last year, and we see that the trend continues this year as well. South Korea, in particular, is showing strong growth. Still, our most important mackerel market Japan has continued positive development", says Jan Eirik Johnsen, Responsible for Pelagic Species with the Norwegian Seafood Council.

In total, exports to the key Asian markets Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, China, Thailand and Vietnam increased by 10 per cent in value and 27 per cent in volume in the first half of the year, compared with the same period in 2020.

In June, there was a decline in both volume and value for mackerel:

  • 9,000 tonnes of mackerel worth NOK 148 million were exported.
  • This represents a decrease in volume of 3 per cent.
  • Export value fell by NOK 35 million, or 19 per cent, compared with June last year.

The best half-year ever for king crab

  • Norway exported 1,100 tonnes of king crab worth NOK 426 million in the first half of the year.
  • An increase in export volume of 85 per cent.
  • Export value increased by NOK 217 million, or 104 per cent, compared with the first half of last year.
  • South Korea, the United States and the Hong Kong SAR were the largest recipients of king crab in the first half of the year.

"Throughout the first half of the year, we have had tremendous demand for Norwegian king crab from both the grocery trade in the USA and from the restaurant market in Asia. Combined with a gradual opening of restaurants in Europe, this has led to high prices. Combined with several boats that have delivered higher volumes than before, we get the best first half-year ever for king crab", says Ørjan Kjærvik Olsen, Responsible for Shellfish with the Norwegian Seafood Council.

June export figures show an increase in volume and value:

  • 225 tonnes of king crab were exported, totalling NOK 87 million by value.
  • An increase in export volume of 88 per cent.
  • Export value increased by NOK 47 million, or 115 per cent, compared with June last year.

Snow crab shows strong growth in first half-year

  • Norway exported 3,500 tonnes of snow crab worth NOK 593 million in the first half of the year.
  • An increase in export volume of 246 per cent.
  • Export value increased by NOK 451 million, or 318 per cent, compared with the first half of last year.
  • The USA, Denmark and Japan were the largest recipients of snow crab in the first half of the year.

"Snow crab has been an exciting story this year. As a result of closed restaurants in the US, grocery chains started buying snow crab. This has proven very popular with American consumers and has sent both demand and prices up. When the half-year is considered, with June being the best single month we have had, 2021 has been the year where snow crab made its mark as an export species. The only bad news is that Norwegian vessels have now fished almost the entire quota so that growth will slacken off for the rest of the year", says Ørjan Kjærvik Olsen, Responsible for Shellfish with the Norwegian Seafood Council.

June export figures show an increase in volume and value:

  • 872 tonnes of king crab were exported with a value of NOK 169 million.
  • This is an increase in export volume of 131 per cent.
  • Export value increased by NOK 117 million, or 227 per cent, compared with June last year.

Positive development for prawn

  • 7,200 tonnes of prawn worth NOK 461 million were exported in the first half of the year.
  • Prawn export volume increased by 29 per cent.
  • Export value increased by NOK 13 million, or 3 per cent, compared with the first half of last year.
  • The largest recipients were Sweden, the United Kingdom and Finland.

"Prawn has also had a decent development in June, with value growth in our three largest markets Sweden, Great Britain and Finland. These markets have contributed to the first half-year being better than the same period in 2020. With the opening of the restaurant, hotel and catering sector in Europe, we also see signs of increased demand here, which gives reason for cautious optimism for the next six months", says Ørjan Kjærvik Olsen, Responsible for Shellfish with the Norwegian Seafood Council.

June export figures show an increase in volume and value:

  • In June, 1,800 tonnes of prawn worth NOK 96 million were exported.
  • An increase in export volume of 60 per cent.
  • Export value increased by NOK 15 million, or 19 per cent, compared with June last year.

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The Norwegian Seafood Council works with the Norwegian fisheries and aquaculture industries to develop markets for Norwegian seafood through local market intelligence, market development and reputational risk management. The Seafood Council is headquartered in Tromsø and maintains local representatives in twelve of Norway's most important international markets. The Norwegian seafood industry finances the activities of the Norwegian Seafood Council via a tariff on all Norwegian seafood exports.

The Norwegian Seafood Council is a public company owned by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries.

Press contacts

Chris Guldberg

Chris Guldberg

Press contact Communications Director +4792810707
Anette Grøttland Zimowski

Anette Grøttland Zimowski

Press contact Head of International PR +47 919 13 865

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The Norwegian Seafood Council works with the Norwegian fisheries and aquaculture industries to develop markets for Norwegian seafood through local market intelligence, market development and reputational risk management. The Seafood Council is headquartered in Tromsø and maintains local representatives in twelve of Norway's most important international markets. The Norwegian seafood industry finances the activities of the Norwegian Seafood Council via a tariff on all Norwegian seafood exports. The Norwegian Seafood Council is a public company owned by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries.

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