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Photo: Norwegian Seafood Council
Photo: Norwegian Seafood Council

Press release -

The third best month ever for seafood exports

Despite a very challenging month of flare-ups of the corona pandemic in many markets, seafood exports remain at a high level. In October, seafood was exported with a value of NOK 10.4 billion. This is a decrease in value of 5 per cent, or NOK 573 million, compared with October last year. Nevertheless, this is the third highest export value for a single month.

So far this year, the value of seafood exports has reached NOK 87.2 billion. This is at the same level as the record set last year. Historically, seafood exports have only been higher in two single months previously, and that was in October and November of 2019.

“The corona crisis is still affecting both Norway and the rest of the world. Nevertheless, we see that seafood exports almost equal the value from October last year, which was the highest export month ever. For industrial products such as fishmeal, fish oil and fish feed, there is growth in export value. In addition, the export value of king crab, salted fish and frozen cod is increasing. A weak Norwegian krone largely explains the value of seafood exports being maintained at the same level as last year”, says Tom-Jørgen Gangsø, Director of Market Insight and Market Access at the Norwegian Seafood Council,.

Poland, Denmark and France were the largest markets for Norwegian seafood in October.

Highest salmon export volumes ever

  • 120,000 tonnes of salmon were exported with a value of NOK 6.5 billion in October. 
  • Export volumes rose by 4 per cent.
  • Converted into whole fish, volume amounted to 138,674 tonnes. This is the highest export volume for a single month.
  • The value fell by NOK 124 million, or 2 per cent, compared with October last year.
  • Poland, Denmark and France were the largest markets for Norwegian salmon in October.

In October, the export price was NOK 48.57per kg, which was six per cent lower than in the same month last year.

“Asia is the region that has received less salmon this year. In October, it is especially China and Israel that have received a reduced supply of salmon from Norway”, says Paul T. Aandahl, Marine Analyst with the Norwegian Seafood Council.

Increased export volumes, reduced demand for salmon in the restaurant sector and a shift in the flow of goods towards large processing markets in Europe have led to a falling price trend since June.

"Reduced demand in China as a result of the corona pandemic and increased competition from Chilean salmon in Israel is probably the reason for the reduced exports to these markets," says Aandahl.

  • So far this year, 920,000 tonnes of salmon worth NOK 58.3 billion have been exported.
  • The volume is at the same level as last year, while the value fell by NOK 522 million, or just under one per cent.

Maintaining consistent export values for trout 

  • 7,100 tonnes of trout worth NOK 371 million were exported in October.
  • Export volume increased by 6 per cent.
  • Value remains at the same level as 2019.
  • Belarus, Japan and Ukraine were the largest markets for Norwegian trout in October
  • So far this year, 60,000 tonnes of trout have been exported for NOK 3.2 billion.
  • This represents an increase in volume of 27 per cent, while the value of exports increased by NOK 275 million, or 9 per cent.

Reduced export of fresh cod fillets

  • Norway exported 1,900 tonnes of fresh cod, including fillets, worth NOK 86 million in October.
  • Export volume fell by 8 per cent.
  • The value fell by NOK 25 million, or 22 per cent, compared with October last year.
  • Denmark, Sweden and Germany were the largest markets for fresh cod from Norway in October.

“It is first and foremost reduced exports of fresh fillets that explain the decline in fresh cod in October. Exports of fresh fillets have fallen by 26 percent so far this year, while exports of fresh whole cod have been on a par with last year since this spring”, says Ingrid Kristine Pettersen, Seafood Analyst with the Norwegian Seafood Council.

  • So far this year, 43,700 tonnes of fresh cod have been exported totaling NOK 2 billion.
  • There is a reduction in volume of 6 per cent, while the value fell by NOK 67 million, or 3 per cent.

Frozen cod grows in value

  • Norway exported 5,200 tonnes of frozen cod worth NOK 225 million in October.
  • There is an increase in volume of 17 per cent.
  • The value increased by NOK 33 million, or 17 per cent, compared with October last year.
  • China, the United Kingdom and Lithuania were the largest markets for frozen cod from Norway in October.

After a couple of months with lower export volumes compared to last year, we have seen growth for both frozen whole and fillet of cod in October. For frozen whole cod, the largest growth is in China, while the largest reduction has been to the United Kingdom.

Increasing demand

“Demand for frozen cod products has been high during the shutdown in the markets. Prices for frozen whole cod have risen slightly in the last couple of months after a steady fall in prices since April. At the same time, we have seen that this growth has slowed down somewhat as the countries have reopened”, says Ingrid Kristine Pettersen, Seafood Analyst with the Norwegian Seafood Council.

  • So far this year, 58,300 tonnes of frozen cod have been exported to a value of NOK 2.6 billion.
  • This is an increase in volume of 1 per cent, while the value increased by NOK 185 million, or 8 per cent.

Reduced clipfish exports

  • Norway exported 11,400 tonnes of clipfish worth NOK 617 million in October.
  • There is a reduction in volume of 6 percent.
  • The value fell by NOK 69 million, or 10 per cent, compared with October last year.
  • Portugal, Brazil and the Dominican Republic were the largest markets for Norwegian clipfish in October.

After several months with significantly lower export volumes for cod clipfish, exports are now on a par with October last year.

“Reduced exports of saithe clipfish are the main reason for the decline in clipfish in October. We have seen lower exports to both the Congo and Angola in October, while export volumes to Brazil are almost on a par with October in 2019”, says Ingrid Kristine Pettersen, Seafood Analyst with the Norwegian Seafood Council.

Positive development

The price of both saithe and cod clipfish has fallen during the corona crisis.

“Cod clipfish has seen a price drop of 12 per cent since last winter and is now lower than 2019 levels. Falling volumes and prices are a result of lower demand in core markets such as Portugal and Brazil”, says Pettersen.

At the same time, the Dominican Republic continues its positive development in October.

“So far this year, the export volume has increased by 22 per cent and the value by 38 per cent to this market. Clipfish has a high share of domestic seafood consumption, and this has strengthened as the hotel and restaurant segment has been shut down due to the corona crisis”, says Øystein Valanes, the Norwegian Seafood Council's seafood envoy to Brazil.

  • So far this year, 67,100 tonnes of clipfish have been exported for NOK 3.5 billion.
  • This is a reduction in volume of 12 per cent, while the value of clipfish exports fell by NOK 417 million, or 11 per cent.

Lower prices for salt fish exports

  • Norway exported 2,700 tonnes of salted fish worth NOK 130 million in October.
  • This represents an increase in volume of 50 percent.
  • Export value increased by NOK 39 million, or 43 per cent, compared with October last year.
  • Portugal, Italy and Canada were the largest markets for Norwegian salted fish in October.

“In October, it was especially salted whole cod that was responsible for the growth, and here most of it was exported to Portugal. It is still worth noting that prices have been significantly lower than this winter, which is due to falling demand in the markets due to the corona crisis”, says Seafood Analyst Ingrid Kristine Pettersen from the Norwegian Seafood Council.

  • So far this year, 22,300 tonnes of salted fish have been exported for NOK 1.3 billion.
  • There is an increase in volume of 6 per cent, while the value increased by NOK 120 million, or 10 per cent.

Stockfish market outlook remains uncertain

  • Norway exported 572 tonnes of stockfish worth NOK 98 million in October.
  • There is a decrease in volume of 16 percent.
  • The value fell by NOK 42 million, or 30 per cent, compared with October last year.
  • Italy, Nigeria and Croatia were the largest markets for Norwegian stockfish in October.

“We are now in the middle of the main season for exporting cod stockfish, and export volumes are lower than at this time last year. Exports to Italy have decreased by 42 per cent, to 238 tonnes, compared with October 2019. Italy, Norway's most important stockfish market, has seen a worsening situation with regard to corona infections during October. New austerity measures contribute to increased uncertainty about the future demand for stockfish”, says Seafood Analyst Ingrid Kristine Pettersen with the Norwegian Seafood Council.

  • So far this year, 3,200 tonnes of stockfish have been exported for NOK 573 million.
  • Volume is down by 9 per cent, while the value of exports fell by NOK 74 million, or 11 per cent.

Downward trend for herring

  • Norway exported 25,300 tonnes of herring worth NOK 358 million in October.
  • There is a decrease in volume of 43 percent.
  • The value fell by NOK 27 million, or 7 per cent, compared with October last year.
  • Poland, Germany and Egypt were the largest markets for Norwegian herring in October.

The picture for herring exports in October is the following:

  • Sharp decline in exports of whole frozen herring, especially to Eastern Europe and West Africa
  • Increasing exports of herring fillet products, especially to Germany and Poland
  • A formidable increase in exports of herring roe

“The corona crisis has given a particularly high demand for canned herring. In addition, we see that the ongoing revision of the MSC environmental certification means that buyers want to secure MSC-certified herring before a possible suspension of the certificate. This gave an increased export value for herring fillet products to both Germany and Poland compared to October last year”, says Jan Eirik Johnsen, Business Development Manager, Insight and Pelagic, with the Norwegian Seafood Council.

Exciting growth trend for for herring roe

Another product that has seen strong growth in 2020 is herring roe.

“The impressive growth we have been monitoring has continued in October, with export value reaching NOK 53.5 million. Year-to-date exports now total NOK 391 million. This is an increase of over 140 per cent, compared to 2019”, says Johnsen.

  • So far this year, 227,000 tonnes of herring have been exported for NOK 2.8 billion.
  • This is a reduction in volume of 7 per cent, while the value increased by NOK 555 million or 25 per cent.

A late start to the mackerel season

  • Norway exported 69,200 tonnes of mackerel worth NOK 1.1 billion in October.
  • There is a decrease in volume of 5 percent.
  • The value fell by NOK 212 million, or 16 per cent, compared with October last year.
  • Japan, South Korea and China were the largest markets for Norwegian mackerel in October.

The mackerel season started late this year, and this affects the export volume in October.

“In recent years, the start of the mackerel season has shifted more and more towards the winter. The fishing season in 2020 started in week 40, which is the latest that has been registered in the last decade. In comparison, the fishing season started in 2010 in week 34”, says Jan Eirik Johnsen, Business Development Manager, Insight and Pelagic, with the Norwegian Seafood Council.

Robust demand in Asian markets

Good demand for mackerel has been reported in Asian consumer markets.

“In October, for example, there was an increase in export value of 34 per cent to South Korea and 27 per cent to Taiwan. This is driven by an increase in volume, as the price has fallen compared to last year”, says Johnsen.

  • So far this year, 205,000 tonnes of mackerel have been exported totaling NOK 3.5 billion.
  • This is an increase in volume of 14 per cent, while export value increased by NOK 313 million, or 10 per cent.

Growth for king crab

  • Norway exported 259 tonnes of king crab worth NOK 79 million in October.
  • There is an increase in volume of 61 percent.
  • The value increased by NOK 29 million, or 58 per cent, compared with October last year.
  • The USA, Japan and South Korea were the largest markets for Norwegian king crab in October.

“Not since 2008 has the export value of king crab been as high as in October this year. At that time, however, the volume was three times as high, which in reality means that the price of king crab has tripled”, says Josefine Voraa, Manager for Shellfish with the Norwegian Seafood Council.

Higher export volumes

The increased export value is primarily due to increased volumes.

"Good demand in large consumer markets for king crab combined with a lower supply of red king crab from Russia and Alaska is the main explanation for the increased demand," says Voraa.

Frozen king crab increased by 46 per cent measured in value and 54 per cent measured in volume. Here, Japan, France and the United States were the largest emerging markets.

“For live king crab, the export value increased by 69 per cent and the export volume by 70 per cent. Here, Hong Kong, South Korea and Vietnam have driven the growth”, says Voraa.

  • So far this year, 1,700 tonnes of king crab have been exported for NOK 542 million.
  • There is a reduction in volume of 5 per cent, while export value fell by NOK 12 million, or 2 per cent.

Growth for prawn in the Swedish market

  • NOK 1,300 tonnes of prawn valued at NOK 92 million were exported in October.
  • This represents is a fall in export volume of 34 per cent.
  • Export value fell by NOK 20 million, or 18 per cent, compared with October last year.
  • Sweden, the Netherlands and Finland were the largest markets for Norwegian prawn in October.

Exports of prawn to Sweden continue the positive trend in recent months.

“October was another strong month for prawn exports to Sweden, with a volume growth of as much as 61 percent. All product segments grew, but frozen peeled prawns accounted for the largest growth with 77 percent. In October, the big advertising campaign started with prawn. This combined with good price campaigns in stores has driven up the demand for Norwegian prawn in Sweden”, says Sigmund Bjørgo the Norwegian Seafood Council's seafood envoy.

So far this year, the Swedish prawn market accounts for 36 per cent of total prawn exports when measured by value.

“Despite the strong growth in Sweden, there is a decline in prawn in total as a result of reduced volumes of frozen, peeled prawn to the UK and frozen raw prawn to Iceland”, says Josefine Voraa, Manager for Shellfish with the Norwegian Seafood Council.

  • So far this year, 10,000 tonnes of prawn have been exported for NOK 759 million.
  • There has been a reduction in volume of 30 per cent, while the value fell by NOK 174 million, or 19 per cent.

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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

Ingrid Kristine Pettersen

Ingrid Kristine Pettersen

Market analyst Whitefish and conventional products
Paul T. Aandahl

Paul T. Aandahl

Seafood Analyst +47 975 04 124