New year, old trends for Norwegian seafood exports

Although the value of exports grew for the 35th consecutive month in January 2024, once again it did so thanks to higher salmon prices and a weaker Norwegian krone.
In January 2024, Norway exported seafood worth NOK 13.300 million (EUR 1,161 million - USD 1,247 million), 5% more than in the same month of the previous year.

In January 2024, Norway exported seafood worth NOK 13.300 million (EUR 1,161 million - USD 1,247 million), 5% more than in the same month of the previous year.

Photo: Norwegian Seafood Council.

If last month we reported that 2023 was the "best value year ever" for Norwegian seafood exports, the Norwegian Seafood Council (NSC) results for January 2024 indicate that the trend continues. In the first month of the new year, Norway exported seafood worth NOK 13,300 million (EUR 1,161 million - USD 1,247 million), 5% more than in the same month last year.

This good figure confirms that the value of Norwegian seafood exports has been growing steadily over the past 35 months, although the reasons for this increase are once again well-known.  "This is primarily due to increased salmon prices. Together with a weakened krone, this has led to the total export value setting a record high for January," said Christian Chramer, NSC's CEO.

"We also saw a significant currency effect in January," he continued. "Compared to the same month last year, the Norwegian krone has weakened by 6 percent against the euro, which raises export prices in the Norwegian kroner."

Less volume due to quota cuts

Also as was the case in 2023, in January 2024 the increase in value has not been accompanied by an increase in volumes in Norway's seafood exports. The Nordic country exported 184,000 tons of seafood, 15% less than in January last year. The Norwegian Seafood Council pointed to the reduction in catch quotas as the main reason.

"The quota reductions on cod, herring, and mackerel are now really beginning to be felt in the export volume. This year, our largest wild-caught species measured by value, the cod, will receive a quota cut of 20 percent. The same is the case for herring. This results in increased competition for the raw material and lower supply to the markets," stated its CEO.

However, Christian Chramer also stressed that these regulations are a fundamental part of Norwegian fisheries management. "Taking care of the precious fishing resources along the Norwegian coast is not only important for Norway, but also important for being able to supply the world with nutritious seafood. To continue to manage it, we must live with lower landings and export volumes in periods. That makes Norway a sustainable and responsible seafood nation."

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Norwegian vessel fishing for mackerel. Reductions in cod, herring, and mackerel quotas began to be felt in the volume of Norwegian exports in January 2004.</p></div>

Norwegian vessel fishing for mackerel. Reductions in cod, herring, and mackerel quotas began to be felt in the volume of Norwegian exports in January 2004.

Photo: Norwegian Seafood Council.

The European Union was the largest market in January

In January Norway exported seafood to a total of 118 countries. Poland was the country that recorded the most significant increase in value with NOK 257 million (EUR 23.96 million - USD 25.70 million), 25% more than last year, with export volume amounting up to 18,870 tons, 9% more than in January 2023. A trend extended to the entire European Union, which was the largest recipient market with exports worth NOK 7,500 million (EUR 653 million - USD 701 million), 11% more than last year.

"Although there is still uncertainty about the economic development in the markets, inflation in recent months has fallen faster than expected. The International Monetary Fund expects an increase in the purchasing power of households in the euro area this year. It will be positive for the demand for Norwegian seafood in a market which in 2023 accounted for 68 percent of the export value of Norwegian seafood," Chramer explained.

January was also a record month for quality-marked skrei, which accounted for 25% of the export value of all wild-caught fresh cod. "Like salmon, skrei has gained a foothold as a quality product among European consumers, and it is gratifying to see an increasing volume of skrei even as the overall cod quota falls," said the NSC CEO.

Farmed cod the main protagonist together with skrei

The excellent start to the quality-labeled skrei season came despite the fact that the export volume of fresh cod declined by 7% in January. With lower quotas, landings also fell by about 17%. "This has resulted in a lower export volume of wild-caught fresh cod, which fell 21 percent in January to a total of 2,455 tonnes," said seafood analyst of NSC Eivind Hestvik Brækkan. The export value was NOK 170 million (EUR 14.80 million - USD 15.88 million).

Against this, the export volume of fresh farmed cod increased by 62% to 1,051 tons and a value of NOK 59 million (EUR 5.13 million - USD 5.51 million). This means that at least 26% of the value of fresh cod exports in January was farmed cod.

Regarding the destination of both, Eivind Hestvik Brækkan explains that "while the transit country Denmark is the largest destination for wild-caught cod, with over 80 percent of the export volume, Spain is the largest destination for farmed cod. 40 percent of the volume ends up in this market."

As regards frozen cod, in January 2024 Norway exported 7,480 tons - 4% less than in the same month last year - worth NOK 364 million (EUR 31.69 million - USD 34 million), down 18%. China, Great Britain, and Vietnam were its largest markets although, while China fell by only 1% in January, export volumes to the UK were down 19%.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Although the export volume of Norwegian fresh cod declined in January, quality-labeled skrei had an excellent start to the year. </p></div>

Although the export volume of Norwegian fresh cod declined in January, quality-labeled skrei had an excellent start to the year.

Photo: Norwegian Seafood Council.

Strong month for salmonid value growth

The export volume of Norwegian salmon decreased by 2% in January. A total of 86,985 tons were exported, which, however, reached a value of NOK 9.8 billion (EUR 852.97 million - USD 915.07 million), 11% more than last year. Poland, France, and the U.S. were its main markets for salmon in January.

"The development in January follows the pattern from the last three years; a decrease in volume gives a more robust growth in price compared to the same period the previous year, and the result is an increase in value," said Paul T. Aandahl, Seafood Analyst with the Norwegian Seafood Council. The average export price of fresh whole salmon in January was NOK 107.09 (EUR 9.31 - USD 9.99) per kilogram, 15% higher than in the same month last year.

Within salmonids, salmon shared the limelight with trout, which had a strong month, with export volumes 49% higher than last year. There were 4,584 tons worth NOK 439 million (EUR 38.17 million - USD 40.95 million), an increase of 43% over January 2023. The U.S., Thailand, and Ukraine were its largest markets.

"Historically speaking, both trout production and exports have had significant fluctuations. There was a decrease in 2023, but it is now back at the 2022 level measured in volume. However, there has been a sharp turn in the product mix for trout. Fresh whole trout has increased its dominance compared to the other product types," stated analyst Paul T. Aandahl.

Ups and downs in other species

For other species, January was a month of ups and downs.  It was a weak month for herring, whose total value of exports fell by 3% compared to last year, while volume fell by 26%. "With a total quota reduction for all herring of 20 percent and NVG herring of 24 percent, it is natural that catches are below the levels from January last year," said Jan Eirik Johnsen, Manager for Pelagic Species with the NSC. "In addition, demanding fishing has resulted in 72,000 tonnes being landed in January this year, compared to 103,000 tonnes in the same period last year."

Likewise, the value - down 23% - and the volume - down 34% - of mackerel exports fell. This year, 29,000 tons have been landed, compared to 46,000 tons last year in the same period, mostly from foreign vessels. "Norway has not set a final quota for mackerel for the year pending the conclusion of negotiations with other coastal states. A provisional quota of 100,000 tonnes has been set, as was also done in 2023," Johnsen recalled.

The quota did not influence the king crab, which, despite a 60% reduction in the catch quota, started 2024 with a 29% increase in volume and a 22% increase in value. The U.S. was its largest export market. Not as fortunate, however, was the snow crab, which experienced a large drop in January with 50% less volume and 70% less value. "The main reason for the large drop in volume is that there has been less left in stock from the previous year. That was not the case in January last year when there was a lot in stock from 2022. There has been good snow crab fishing in January, so export volumes are expected to pick up again from February," said Marte Sofie Danielsen, NSC Manager for Shellfish.

Finally, January was also a good month for prawn, which managed to maintain its value at the same level as last year, although it did so thanks to a 48% higher volume of exports. "This is due to increased volumes at lower prices and lower volumes of more expensive products. In addition, there has been substantial growth in the export of frozen industrial prawns to Iceland. At the same time, the price has more than halved," explained Marte Sofie Danielsen.

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