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The Norwegian Seafood Council (NSC) today released seafood exports figures for November totaling NOK 14.400 million (€1.396 million / $1.475 million), which is 2.300 million (€223 million / $235 million) or 19% more than in the same month last year. However, as the NSC points out, although these figures confirm that Norwegian seafood products maintain a strong global position, the increase in demand has not been reflected in higher volumes but in higher prices, influenced by rising costs and high food inflation.

Higher prices, lower volumes

“The export value in November is the third highest ever in a single month and confirms that Norwegian seafood still has a strong global position”, said Christian Chramer, CEO of the Norwegian Seafood Council. “Nevertheless, the increase in demand is not taken out in greater volume but in higher prices. In general, we have high food inflation and increased costs, which drive up prices throughout the value chain”, he explained.

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Specifically, those higher prices accounted for almost NOK 3.000 million (€291 million / $307 million) of last month’s NOK 14.400 million in total exports. November was a strong month for salmon, trout, pollock, and cod, all of which achieved export records compared to the same month last year. So far this year, Norway has exported seafood products worth NOK 138.000 million (€13.379 million / $14.128 million, which is NOK 29,2 million (€2,8 million / $2,9million) above the same period last year. However, this upward trend in prices was not reflected in volumes. Many seafood species were exported in lower volumes than a year ago, which reduced revenues by approximately NOK 900 million (€87 million / $91 million).

“These are challenging times for many of our wild-caught species and categories”, continued  Christian Chramer. “High prices and lower purchasing power in Italy are, among other things, challenging for dried fish. After an excellent start to the year, we experienced a drop in both volume and value for herring and mackerel in November, so we are unlikely to see new export value record for pelagic exports this year”.

Salmon remains at historically high levels

In November, despite a 1% drop in volume, salmon exports again made history and exceeded NOK 10.000 million (€970 million / $1.022 million) in value, 28% more than in the same month last year. After the first 11 months of the year, the total value of exports from the aquaculture sector is NOK 100.000 million (€9.704 million / $10.222 million) for the first time.

However, despite these good data, the current unrest in the salmon market has already been felt in exports. “Although November in isolation was a strong export month for salmon, there are reports from the markets of an unsettled and unclear situation related to the contract market for salmon in 2023. This erodes the predictability that Norwegian salmon has represented for importers, producers and retail customers”, said the Norwegian Seafood Council CEO.

Christian Chramer, new CEO of the Norwegian Seafood Council. Photo: Norwegian Seafood Council.
Christian Chramer, CEO of the Norwegian Seafood Council. Photo: Norwegian Seafood Council.

Poland, the United States, and France were the largest markets for salmon, although it was the U.S. that had the most significant increase in value, up 87% from last year. “This must be seen in the context of several factors. There is still strong demand growth in the USA after the corona pandemic, while at the same time, there is a reduced supply from several competing nations. A strong US dollar against the euro also contributes positively”, says Paul T. Aandahl, Seafood Analyst with the Norwegian Seafood Council.

Weak Norwegian krone good for exports

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Not only did the euro weaken against the dollar, the Norwegian krone also weakened in November, which, according to the Norwegian Seafood Council, gave “a helpful boost” to the value of exports. “Since a weak kroner results in higher export prices measured in Norwegian kroner, it is a favourable development for everyone who sells goods abroad. In total, the currency effect contributed to a value increase of around NOK 300 million (€29 million / $30 million) for Norwegian seafood exports in November”, said Christian Chramer.

Last month Norwegian seafood products were exported to 121 countries, six countries more than in the same month of 2021. The largest markets were Poland, Denmark – where fresh cod stood out -, and the United States which, following in the wake of salmon exports, the U.S. was the country with the most significant total export value increase.

Other highlights for November were the record export value of fresh whole-farmed cod in a single month; the decline in exports of frozen cod – although with the particular case of Indonesia, which in the last three months has returned to importing frozen Norwegian cod after having stopped exports in October 2021 -; the growth in value for dried fish, especially in Portugal; the fall in king crab exports – although they increased for Canada and, again, Indonesia -; the fall in both volume and value for mackerel; and the strong increase in export value and export volume for prawn.

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