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Photo: Norwegian Seafood Council
Photo: Norwegian Seafood Council

Press release -

Rapid growth in Norwegian seafood exports in the first quarter

Despite the tense global trade situation, the export value of Norwegian seafood has never been higher in a first quarter than in 2022. In the first three months of the year, Norway exported seafood worth NOK 34 billion. This is a growth in value of 22 per cent, or NOK 6.2 billion, measured against the first quarter last year.

“A strong global demand for Norwegian seafood yielded record export value in the first quarter. It is nevertheless a demanding time to be engaged in global trade. A month of war has resulted in complicated flows of goods and more expensive logistics. Nevertheless, the Norwegian exporters have in an impressive way managed to supply the world with sustainable seafood from Norway”, says Renate Larsen, CEO of the Norwegian Seafood Council.

Lowest export volume since 2016

In addition to the tense global situation, bad weather, quota reductions and lower sea temperatures have combined to lower the export volumes of herring, mackerel and salmon.

“We have the lowest export volume of Norwegian seafood in a first quarter for six years. The record-setting export value is therefore driven by strong price growth for many species. The salmon price has remained at a high level, at the same time as we have a record value for cod and saithe so far this year”, says Renate Larsen.

An all-time best single month

January and February were two good months for Norwegian seafood exports, but they were still surpassed by March, which became the strongest single month ever, with an export value of NOK 12.4 billion. This is an increase of 13 per cent, or NOK 1.5 billion, compared with the same month last year. The previous record for a single month was October 2021 with NOK 12.1 billion.

“The export value record must also be seen in connection with higher costs related to energy, fuel, shipping and other input factors for the capture and production of seafood in various parts of the value chain”, Larsen emphasizes.

USA saw the strongest export growth

While the share of seafood exports to Asia increased in the first two months of the year, it was lower in March.

“Complicated logistics due to closed airspace over Russia and new shutdowns due to increasing corona infection rates in China have changed the flow of goods. In March, we see, among other things, that the share of the EU is increasing”, says Renate Larsen.

The USA was the largest growth market for Norwegian seafood in the first quarter. Exports increased by NOK 785 million, to a total of NOK 2.6 billion. This was followed by France, with a growth of NOK 730 million, to NOK 2.5 billion. China was in third place with a growth of NOK 668 million, to NOK 1.8 billion.

A record quarter for salmon

  • Norway exported 283,200 tonnes of salmon for NOK 23.2 billion in the first quarter. This is a new export value record.
  • Export volume fell by 5 per cent compared with the first quarter last year.
  • Export value increased by NOK 5.7 billion, or 33 per cent, compared with the first quarter last year.
  • The average price for fresh whole salmon increased from NOK 54.29 to NOK 78.37 per kg.
  • Poland, France and the USA were the largest recipients of salmon from Norway in the first quarter.

Salmon exports in March also set a new value record:

  • 98,300 tonnes of salmon worth NOK 8.5 billion were exported.
  • There is a decrease in volume of 8 per cent.
  • The value increased by NOK 1.3 billion, or 19 per cent, compared with March last year

EU takes market share from Asia

Increased demand and a lower export volume compared with last year have led to growth in the export price in the first quarter. At that time, the value for Norwegian salmon exports was the highest ever recorded.

“The loss of exports to Belarus and Ukraine has had a relatively small impact on salmon exports. Last year, the share of these markets was about 2 per cent of total salmon exports. However, high salmon prices and increased costs for shipping to Asia have led to a shift in the flow of goods from Asia to the EU in March. This is the opposite of the trend from January and February”, says Paul T. Aandahl, Seafood Analyst with the Norwegian Seafood Council.

Export value increase for trout

  • Norway exported 11,600 tonnes of trout for NOK 945 million in the first quarter.
  • Export volume fell by 4 per cent.
  • Export value increased by NOK 206 million, or 28 per cent, compared with the first quarter last year.
  • The USA, Thailand and Poland were the largest markets for Norwegian trout in the first quarter
  • 3,300 tonnes of trout worth NOK 282 million were exported in March.
  • Export volume fell by 26 per cent.
  • Export value fell by NOK 4 million, or 2 per cent, compared with March last year.

Increased supply to Asia

In March 2021, 1,144 tonnes of trout were exported to Belarus and Ukraine. This roughly corresponds to the reduction in the export volume of trout in March this year.

“In other words, there has been no increase in supply to other markets as a result of the situation in Ukraine. While Asia had a reduced share of exports for salmon in March compared to last year, the opposite has happened for trout. Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore are examples of countries that have had a reduced supply of salmon and an increased supply of trout during March”, says Paul T. Aandahl, Seafood Analyst with the Norwegian Seafood Council.

Record high export value for cod and saithe

The export value for cod has never been higher in a single quarter than this year. Higher prices for clip fish, salted fish and fresh and frozen cod have been the biggest contributors to the record. Increased export volumes of frozen whole cod and salted fish have also contributed to the export record for cod.

“It is also a quarterly record for saithe. Strong volume growth for frozen whole saithe and still rising prices for clip fish of saithe have been the biggest contributors to the record export value. Export prices for all saithe products have increased since the first quarter of last year, and even with a somewhat lower export volume of clip fish, we set a new export record for saithe in the first quarter of this year”, says Eivind Hestvik Brækkan, Marine Analyst with the Norwegian Seafood Council.

Best quarter ever for fresh cod exports

  • Norway exported 26,100 tonnes of fresh cod worth NOK 1.3 billion in the first quarter. This is the highest export value for fresh cod in a quarter ever, and 9 per cent higher than the previous record quarter, which was in the first quarter of 2018.
  • There has been a decrease in export volume of 10 per cent.
  • The value of exports increased by NOK 203 million, or 19 per cent, compared with the first quarter of last year.
  • Of this, 3,800 tonnes of cod were exported to a value of NOK 205 million.
  • Export volume is at the same level as last year.
  • Export value increased by NOK 44 million, or 27 per cent in the first quarter.
  • Denmark, the Netherlands and Poland were the largest recipients of fresh cod from Norway in the first quarter.

The average export price of fresh whole cod has never been higher during a quarter. It ended at NOK 46 per kg, which is 35 per cent higher than the first quarter last year. There was also a record high export price for cod, at NOK 54 per kg. This is 26 per cent higher than in the first quarter last year.

Increasing demand

“From Denmark, the Netherlands and Poland much goes on to large fresh markets such as France, Spain and Germany. Like much other seafood, the demand for fresh cod is increasing as the effects of the corona pandemic subside. Increased tourism, open fresh food counters, more restaurant visits and a lower supply from other countries contribute to raising the demand for Norwegian fresh cod in all major fresh markets”, says Eivind Hestvik Brækkan, Marine Analyst with the Norwegian Seafood Council.

For March, the export figures show a significant decrease in volume, while increased prices contribute to the highest ever export value for fresh cod in a single month:

  • 11,300 tonnes of fresh cod worth NOK 541 million were exported.
  • There is a decrease in volume of 20 per cent.
  • The value increased by NOK 56 million, or 12 per cent, compared with March last year.

Record quarter for frozen cod

  • Norway exported 29,600 tonnes of frozen cod worth NOK 1.3 billion in the first quarter.
  • There is an increase in the volume of 16 per cent.
  • Export value increased by NOK 360 million, or 37 per cent, compared with the first quarter last year. This is the highest ever export value in a single quarter, and as much as 25 per cent higher than the previous record quarter, which was in the first quarter of 2020.
  • China, the United Kingdom and the United States were the largest recipients of frozen cod in the first quarter.

The USA stands out with a multiplication of the export volume compared to last year.

“As much as 10 per cent of the export value of frozen cod went to the US in the first quarter, and we must go back to 2004 to find a higher share to the US in a single quarter. Although the US import ban on Russian seafood may have contributed to the growth in the last half of March, we have over several months seen an increase in exports to the US”, says Eivind Hestvik Brækkan, Marine Analyst with the Norwegian Seafood Council.

USA record

A weak start to the fishing season for Pacific cod in Alaska has contributed to increased demand for frozen cod from other producer countries, including Norway.

“No more frozen cod has been exported to the USA in a single quarter since the third quarter of 1997, and the export value of NOK 131 million has never been higher either”, says Brækkan.

Also in March, there was value growth for frozen cod:

  • 10,100 tonnes of frozen cod worth NOK 505 million were exported.
  • There is a decrease in volume of 14 per cent.
  • The value increased by NOK 47 million, or 10 per cent, compared with March last year.

Lower clip fish volume

  • Norway exported 19,400 tonnes of clip fish worth NOK 1 billion in the first quarter.
  • There is a decrease in volume of 15 per cent.
  • Export value increased by NOK 26 million, or 3 per cent, compared with the first quarter of last year.
  • Portugal, Brazil and the Dominican Republic were the most important markets for Norwegian clip fish in the first quarter.

The average export price for clip fish of both cod, saithe and tusk has never been higher than in the first quarter. However, lower export volumes mean that the export record was not broken.

For Easter, clip fish is a must for many in Portugal. The outlook for our largest clip fish market is nevertheless somewhat uncertain going forward.

High inflation in Portugal

“Whether the Portuguese will buy the same amount of clip fish this year will depend on how many price campaigns are run in the shops”, says Johnny Thomassen, the Norwegian Seafood Council's envoy to Portugal.

He points out that high inflation means that many Portuguese have a poorer economy.

“We also see that prices in stores have increased, which has contributed to sales in the grocery trade so far this year being somewhat down compared to last year. A bright spot is that we expect a significant increase in tourism to Portugal this year, which will be positive for the demand for clip fish”, says Thomassen.

In March, there was value growth for clip fish exports:

  • 5,700 tonnes of clip fish worth NOK 317 million were exported.
  • There is a decrease of 15 per cent in export volume.
  • The value of exports increased by NOK 19 million, or 6 per cent, compared with March last year.

Record high export prices for salted fish

  • Norway exported 8,000 tonnes of salted fish worth NOK 498 million in the first quarter.
  • There is an increase in export volume of 46 per cent.
  • The value of exports increased by NOK 256 million, or 105 per cent, compared with the first quarter last year.
  • Portugal, Greece and Spain were the most important markets for Norwegian salted fish in the first quarter.

For salted whole cod, we must go all the way back to 2007 to find a higher export value in the first quarter.

This trend is also reflected in the figures for salted fish exports in March:

  • 4,800 tonnes of salted fish were exported to a value of NOK 319 million.
  • There is an increase in the volume of 105 per cent.
  • The value of exports increased by NOK 217 million, or 213 per cent, compared with March last year.

Dried fish impacted by corona restrictions in Italy

  • Norway exported 1,100 tonnes of stockfish worth NOK 203 million in the first quarter.
  • There is a decrease in export volume of 3 per cent.
  • The value of exports is at the same level as last year.
  • Italy, USA and Nigeria were our most important markets for stockfish in the first quarter.

In our largest stockfish market, Italy, the coronary restrictions so far this year have placed strong restrictions on trade and movement patterns.

“It has put a damper on the restaurant consumption of seafood and stockfish. As the restrictions are eased throughout the year, we believe in an improvement in demand. We also see tendencies towards an increased selection of stockfish products in the trade”, says Gunvar L. Wie, the Norwegian Seafood Council's envoy to Italy.

In March, there was a value increase for stockfish:

  • 340 tonnes of stockfish worth NOK 55 million were exported.
  • The volume of exports is at the same level as last year.
  • The value of exports increased by NOK 2 million, or 3 per cent compared with March last year.

Challenging quarter for herring

  • Norway exported 89,400 tonnes of herring worth NOK 1.1 billion in the first quarter.
  • The volume of exports fell by 25 per cent.
  • The value of exports fell by NOK 170 million, or 14 per cent, compared with the first quarter last year.
  • Poland, Egypt and Germany were the most important markets for Norwegian herring in the first quarter.

Exports of herring in the first quarter are characterized by less Norwegian spring-spawning herring (NVG) being landed compared with 2021.

“This was due to a combination of bad weather, occasional bad fishing and a reduction in quotas of 8 percent. In addition, a large part of the purse seine fleet was engaged in capelin fishing during parts of the period. In the first three months, 165,000 tonnes of herring were landed, compared with 198,000 tonnes in the same period in 2021”, says Jan Eirik Johnsen, Manager for Pelagic Species with the Norwegian Seafood Council.

Reduced volume gives good prices

Reduced volumes and good demand in the markets have sent prices, both first-hand and for export, markedly upwards.

“For frozen whole NVG herring, the average price for export in the first quarter of this year was NOK 9.22 per kg, compared with NOK 7.50 per kg in the same period last year. This is an increase of 23 per cent”, says Johnsen.

For skinless fillets of NVG herring, the average price in the period was NOK 15.77 per kg against NOK 13.58 per kg in the same period last year, an increase of 16 per cent.

“Strong herring fishing at the end of February meant that the export of herring picked up in March compared with 2021. In these two weeks, 61,000 tonnes of NVG herring were landed against 44,000 tonnes in the same weeks the year before”, says Jan Eirik Johnsen.

Ukraine effect in March

In March, we see the obvious effects of the ravages of war in Ukraine. Herring exports fell from 1,900 tonnes last year in March to 150 tonnes this year. Much of the herring exported to Ukraine goes via Lithuania. In March last year, 3,500 tonnes were exported to Lithuania, while this year it was reduced to 800 tonnes.

Herring exports in March were as follows:

  • 32,600 tonnes of herring worth NOK 394 million were exported.
  • There is an increase in export volume of 13 per cent.
  • The value of exports increased by NOK 34 million, or 9 per cent, compared with March last year.

Decline for mackerel

  • Norway exported 61,500 tonnes of mackerel worth NOK 1.2 billion in the first quarter.
  • There is a decrease in export volume of 31 per cent.
  • The value of exports fell by NOK 204 million, or 15 per cent, compared with the first quarter last year.
  • South Korea, China and Japan were the largest markets for Norwegian mackerel in the first quarter.

Like herring, there are fewer landings of mackerel in the first quarter compared to last year.

“As there are low inventories in Norway, this directly affects exports. In the first three months, 51,000 tonnes were landed this year, compared with 69,000 tonnes in the same period last year. This is a decrease of 26 per cent”, says Jan Eirik Johnsen, Manager for Pelagic Species with the Norwegian Seafood Council.

Good demand from Asia

The vast majority of mackerel goes to Asia (70 per cent), where there is still good demand for Norwegian mackerel. Limited supply and good demand resulted in high prices in the first quarter.

“The average price for exported mackerel in the period was NOK 19.03 per kg, which is 24 per cent higher than the same period in 2021. In March, the average price for exported mackerel was NOK 20.03 per kg. It is the highest ever recorded. It is also the first time that the price is over NOK 20 per kg on average for a month”, says Jan Eirik Johnsen.

March was a lean month for mackerel:

  • 11,200 tonnes of mackerel worth NOK 225 million were exported.
  • There is a reduction in export volume of 40 per cent.
  • The value of exports fell by NOK 70 million, or 24 per cent, compared with March last year.

High prices for king crab

  • Norway exported 399 tonnes of king crab worth NOK 248 million in the first quarter.
  • There is a decrease in export volume of 43 per cent.
  • The value of exports is at the same level as last year.
  • The United States, the Netherlands and South Korea were the largest recipients of king crab in the first quarter.

So far this year, 17 per cent more king crabs have been landed and caught than in the same period last year. At the same time, 43 per cent less has been exported. The export value remains at the same level as a result of high prices for both frozen and live king crab.

“A lot of Russian red king crab in the Asian markets at the beginning of the year, coronary restrictions, increasing infection rates and challenging air transport to Asia have led to a shift in the export of live king crab from Asia to North America”, says Josefine Voraa, Manager for Shellfish with the Norwegian Seafood Council.

Significant decline for king crab in March

Exports in March are characterized by a sharp decline in exports of live king crab to Asia of 74 per cent by volume. This is due to closed airspace over Russia, an increase in live king crab to North America and an increase in exports of frozen to Europe of 94 per cent.

  • 119 tonnes of king crab worth NOK 82 million were exported.
  • There is a decrease in export volume of 32 per cent.
  • The value of exports increased by NOK 10 million, or 14 per cent, compared with March last year.

Growth for snow crab

  • Norway exported 1,300 tonnes of snow crab worth NOK 264 million in the first quarter.
  • There is an increase in export volume of 22 per cent.
  • The value of exports increased by NOK 93 million or 54 per cent compared with the first quarter last year.
  • The USA, Denmark and the Netherlands were the largest recipients of snow crab in the first quarter.

In the first quarter, more snow crabs have been landed and exported than in the same period last year.

Increased export to transit markets

Last year's largest growth market For the first three months of the year, the USA accounted for 38 per cent of direct exports, but it is in transit markets such as the Netherlands and Denmark that growth has been greatest in the first quarter.

“In the US, demand has been slightly lower than at the same time last year due to a lot of snow crab in stock, uncertainty related to this year's quotas in Canada and the consequences of a US import ban on Russian crab”, says Josefine Voraa, Manager for Shellfish with the Norwegian Seafood Council.

In March, there was an increase in both volume and value for snow crab:

  • 479 tonnes of snow crab worth NOK 99 million were exported.
  • There is an increase in export volume of 5 per cent.
  • The value of exports increased by NOK 21 million, or 27 per cent, compared with March last year.

Weak quarter for prawn exports

  • 2,800 tonnes of prawn worth NOK 207 million were exported in the first quarter.
  • For prawn, the export volume decrease was 3 per cent.
  • The value of exports fell by NOK 11 million, or 5 per cent, compared with the first quarter last year.
  • The largest recipients were Sweden, the United Kingdom and Finland.

For the first three months of the year, exports of prawn have been characterized by a strong growth of frozen, peeled prawn to the UK of 42 per cent in volume and 63 per cent in value compared with the same period last year.

“We have to go back to 2006 to find a higher export volume in the first quarter, but measured in value, exports in 2019 were higher as a result of higher export prices”, says Josefine Voraa, Manager for Shellfish with the Norwegian Seafood Council.

Reduction in exports to Sweden

To Sweden, on the other hand, there has been a decrease in exports of 16 per cent in volume and 21 per cent by volume. The reason for the decline in the first quarter is slightly slower sales at the beginning of the year and a decline in the supply of fresh shellfish as a result of lower landings in Norway.

March saw a further drop in prawn exports:

  • In March, 797 tonnes of prawn worth NOK 65 million were exported.
  • There is a reduction in the volume of exports by 31 per cent.
  • The value of exports fell by NOK 22 million, or 26 per cent, compared with March last year.

The large decline in prawn volume in March is due to a sharp decline in exports of frozen peeled prawn to the UK of 57 per cent in volume.

“Sweden reopened on 6 February, and from the March figures, we see that the market is now on its way back with an increase in exports of frozen peeled prawn of 50 per cent. For fresh shell prawns, there is still less raw material available. This leads to a price increase of 32 per cent to NOK 165 per kg and a decrease in volume of 66 per cent”, says Charlotte Rapp, Manager Sweden for the Norwegian Seafood Council.

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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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Martin Skaug

Martin Skaug

Press contact Communications director +47 915 59 902

Proudly representing Seafood from Norway

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.

Norwegian Seafood Council
Stortorget 1
9008 Tromsø
Norway