Norwegian salmon: prices fall, global competition increases

Still the species generating the highest export value, but its fall - both in price and volumes - dragged down the value of Norwegian seafood exports in June.
Closeup of fresh Norwegian Atlantic salmon fillet.

In June, Norwegian salmon suffered the biggest drop in prices measured from one month to the next.

Photo: Adobe Stock.

Salmon remains the crown jewel of Norwegian seafood exports. It accounts for 70% of their total value, which means that when its price falls, the impact on the total value is always noticeable. Except for March, when there was a blip, in the first five months of the year, a weak Norwegian krone and high prices - a trend that has continued since 2023 - boosted its value. However, by June, falling prices, lower volumes, and increased global competition halted growth.

As Marianne Sivertsen Næss, Norway's Minister for Fisheries and Oceans, pointed out in the Norwegian Seafood Council (NSC) release commenting on the results for June and the first half of 2024, weakening purchasing power in key markets, lower export volumes and increased competition from other producing countries are affecting all seafood exports in the country, including salmon.

"The battle for salmon customers has now really intensified"

In June 2024, 93,400 tons of Norwegian salmon worth NOK 8.9 billion (EUR 774.9 million / USD 838.9 million) were exported. This means that the value fell by NOK 1.6 billion (EUR 139.3 million / USD 150.8 million), or 15%, compared to June last year. Volume, meanwhile, fell by 4%.

If we talk about half-year figures, from January to June 2024, Norway exported 500,660 tons of salmon worth NOK 56.3 billion (EUR 4.9 billion / USD 5.3 billion). This equates to a volume drop of 4% and a value drop of 3% - NOK 1.8 billion (EUR 156.8 million / USD 169.7 million) - compared to the same period last year.

Poland, Denmark, and the United States were the largest markets for Norwegian salmon in the first half of the year. In particular, Poland was the country with the highest value growth in this period - up 4% or NOK 267 million (EUR 23.2 million / USD 25.1 million) compared to 2023, while the export volume ended at 62,916 tons, the same as in the same period of last year.

During this time, demand in the main consumer markets has still been characterized by weakened purchasing power. A difficulty to which we must add other factors that, as the CEO of the Norwegian Seafood Council, Christian Chramer, explained, have also had a negative influence on salmon prices.

"The situation was demanding in the first half of the year. Biological challenges resulted in lower harvesting volumes and a change in product composition towards more fillets. In June, global competition from other producer countries also increased, which had a negative impact on prices," said Chramer. "The battle for salmon customers has now really intensified," he concluded.

"This is the biggest drop in prices measured from one month to the next"

As mentioned, the price drop for Norwegian seafood exports in June was the second largest in history, compared to the same month last year. This year, it was second only to March, but as NSC seafood analyst Paul T. Aandahl explained, that change must be seen in the context of Easter. However, in June, the main cause of the decline was due to the fall in salmon prices.

Before stagnating in March this year, the value of salmon had increased for 36 consecutive months. However, in May, the export price of fresh salmon was NOK 116.66 (EUR 10.15 / USD 10.99) per kg. In June, the price dropped to NOK 85.85 (EUR 7.47 / USD 8.09) per kg, a record drop of NOK 30.81 (EUR 2.68 / USD 2.90) per kg.

"This is the biggest drop in prices measured from one month to the next. The previous record fall between two months was in August 2022 at NOK 14.42 (EUR 1.25 / USD 1.35) per kg. If we compare this to the price in June last year, the difference is NOK 14.60 (EUR 1.27 / USD 1.37) per kg. This is not a record between two equal months. It was set in January 2021 at NOK 26.80 (EUR 2.33 / USD 2.52) per kg," explained Aandahl.

According to the Norwegian Seafood Council, the drop in prices this year is mainly due to a 27% increase in the volume of fresh whole salmon compared to May. "In addition, global competition is increasing. This has particularly affected prices to markets that have traditionally paid the most for salmon. In June, there was a big drop in prices to markets such as Italy, South Korea, China, and the USA," Paul T. Aandahl said.

In some of these markets, local producers - often owned or participated in by Norwegian salmon companies - are already pushing ahead with projects to raise salmon locally. One example is Salmon Evolution, with interests in both the United States - where it is in advanced negotiations for a site - and South Korea - where it faces some challenges mainly due to the lack of a clear regulatory framework -; or Nordic Aqua Partners, whose operation - China's first commercial-scale RAS Atlantic salmon farm - completed its first harvest in April.

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