Norwegian cod reached its lowest export value since 2015

From January to June, landings of fresh cod fell drastically because of quota cuts that also hit frozen cod hard. Only farmed cod grew during this time.
Cod quality-marked skrei in a fishmonger's shop in Spain.

Although cod, especially quality-marked skrei exports, made a difference in Norwegian seafood exports in months such as April, for the entire six-month period, cod exports were down in value.

Photo: Norwegian Seafood Council.

A weak Norwegian krone and high prices for cod and salmon - a trend dating back to 2023 - had boosted the value of Norwegian seafood exports in the first five months of the year. However, at the close of the first half, the fall in salmon prices dragged it down. Quota cuts for several of Norway's wild-caught species including cod, which according to the Norwegian Seafood Council (NSC) reached its lowest export value since 2015, also helped.

However, despite this drop and facing consumer markets with weakened purchasing power, cod maintains its position in second place in the top 10 largest species in the first half of the year in terms of value, behind only salmon. Thus, in the first half of 2024 Norwegian cod reached a total value of NOK 6.8 billion (EUR 593.1 million / USD 640.9 million), this is a drop of -6% compared to the same period last year.

Farmed cod to account for an increasing share of Norway's fresh cod exports

In June 2024, Norway exported 2,200 tons of fresh cod worth NOK 141 million (EUR 12.2 million / USD 13.2 million), which means that the value fell by NOK 1 million (EUR 87,219 / USD 94,280) or 1% compared to June last year. Volume, on the other hand, fell by as much as 12%.

From January to June, meanwhile, exports of fresh Norwegian cod reached 28,450 tons and a value of NOK 1.8 billion (EUR 156.9 million / USD 169.7 million). This means that the value fell by 15% - NOK 316 million (EUR 27.5 million / USD 29.7 million) - compared to the first half of last year, while the volume fell by 21%. Its main destination markets in this period were Denmark, the Netherlands, and Spain.

As mentioned, due to quota cuts, fresh cod landings fell drastically in the first half of the year and this led to a significant decrease in export volumes.

In the case of fresh wild cod specifically, the drop was 29% to 22,014 tons, while the value of exports decreased by 24% to NOK 1.4 billion (EUR 122 million / USD 131.9 million).

"This is the lowest export value for fresh wild cod in the first half of the year since 2015, while we have to go all the way back to 2011 to find a lower export volume," explained Eivind Hestvik Brækkan, seafood analyst of the Norwegian Seafood Council.

Against this, the export volume of fresh farmed cod increased by 28% to 6,436 tons, while the value of exports increased by 51% to NOK 372 million (EUR 32.4 million / USD 35 million). This translates into farmed cod reaching its historically highest share in the first half of the year: 21% of total exports of Norwegian fresh cod.

"The proportion of farmed cod has never been so high in the first half of the year. It is also both the highest export value and the highest export volume we have had for fresh farmed cod in a six-month period," Brækkan claimed. "With the prospect of a further decline in cod quotas in 2025, as well as continued growth in the production of farmed cod, farmed cod will account for an increasing share of cod exports from Norway," he added.

Quota cuts also affected frozen cod

Norway exported 3,300 tons of frozen cod worth NOK 210 million (EUR 18.3 million / USD 19.7 million) in June. That is, compared to the same month last year the value fell by 33%, NOK 102 million (EUR 8.8 million / USD 9.6 million), while the volume, also affected by the quota reduction, fell by 41%.

For the first half of the year, the figures reached 33,207 tons of frozen Norwegian cod exported with a value of NOK 2 billion (EUR 174.3 million / USD 188.5 million). Thus, compared to 2023, the value fell by 6%, NOK 124 million (EUR 10.8 million / USD 11.6 million). Volume, on the other hand, fell by 9%. As with fresh cod, Norway has not exported such low volumes of frozen cod in the first half of the year since 2015.

The United Kingdom, China, and Vietnam were, in that order, the largest markets for frozen cod from January to June. Exports to the UK, in particular, fell by 4% to 8,300 tons. Despite this, the British market maintains its first position after overtaking China last year.

"Despite lower cod quotas, it is positive to see the strength of the Norwegian-British seafood co-operation, with a maintained market position and growth in Norwegian exports of frozen whole cod to the UK," highlited Victoria Braathen, the Norwegian Seafood Council's envoy to the UK just days before the election confirmed the change at the head of the British government.

On a positive note, the volume of exports to China increased by 12% in the first half of the year to a total of 9,300 tons. However, it is still significantly lower than in previous years considering that in the first half of 2022, for example, Norway exported a total of 18,100 tons to the Asian giant.

Like China, Vietnam is also primarily a processing market for frozen cod and other white fish. There, growth continued in the first half of the year and, from being the fourteenth largest frozen cod market in 2022, Vietnam has now become the third largest frozen cod market for Norwegian exports.

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