Value up, volume down. That’s the summary of Norwegian seafood exports in February according to the Norwegian Seafood Council (NSC). In the month just ended, Norway exported seafood products worth NOK 12.8 billion, which is NOK 1.6 billion or 14 percent more than in February last year. However, if we look at the volume of exports, Norway exported a total of 207,000 tons of seafood products last month, 17 percent less than in the same period last year.
The decline in salmon export volume in February has been one of the variables influencing both indicators. According to NSC calculations, that decline negatively affected the total value of last month’s exports by around NOK 600 million. According to Christian Chramer, CEO of the Norwegian Seafood Council, “this is primarily due to lower catch volume”.
A good start to the year, despite everything
“Despite war and unrest in several parts of the world, Norwegian seafood exports have enjoyed a good start to the year in value, driven by high price growth and a weak Norwegian krone”, Chramer said. “However, export volume has fallen six months in a row, and we must go back to 2006 to a February month with a lower export volume of Norwegian seafood”, he added.
The CEO of the Norwegian Seafood Council goes on to explain how the decline in catches not only of salmon, but also of other species, has had a negative influence on this decline in volume. “For certain wild fish species, such as cod, lower quotas and bad weather have contributed to landings being significantly lower than in the same period last year. It has resulted in a weaker raw material supply for the land industry, and we must go back to 2013 to find a February month with a lower export volume of fresh cod”.
In his statements, Chramer also remarked that the increase in the value of exports was largely due to the sharp rise in prices as a result of the “troubled times” we are experiencing. Although that was not the only reason, currency effects – the Norwegian krone has weakened against the dollar and the euro over the past year – have also played a role in the price rise.
“A weakened Norwegian krone is an important driver behind the increase in value. While the export value measured in Norwegian kroner increased by 14 per cent, the value measured in euros increased by only 4 per cent. Measured in US dollars, the export value fell by 1 per cent from February last year”, he said.
15% more value for salmon
Although, as mentioned, the decrease in the export volume of salmon in February negatively affected the value of exports by about NOK 600 million, the total value increased by NOK 1.2 billion, or 15 %, compared to February last year. In total, Norway exported 81,645 tons of salmon worth NOK 8.8 billion in February. The United States, Poland, and France were the largest markets for salmon last month.
In the specific case of the USA, February saw the highest increase with an export value of NOK 432 million, 77 % more than in the same month last year. This growth was also reflected in the volume, which reached 41 % more, 6,604 tons. “The good development in the USA is the result of several factors. Demand growth in combination with a strong currency are the most important drivers. In addition, there has been a weak development over time in salmon production in other supplier nations”, explained Paul T. Aandahl, Seafood Analyst with the NSC.
The Norwegian Seafood Council also noted that China was the second fastest-growing market after the USA in February. “China has put the corona pandemic behind it, and there is a strong demand for fresh salmon. There is, therefore, an exciting development in the market”, said Andreas Thorud, the Norwegian Seafood Council’s envoy to China.
However, without leaving Asia and on the negative side, exports to Japan declined the most in February. “An important explanation is a strong increase in shipping costs because of closed Russian airspace. That applies in February and the last 12 months”, Aandahl explained.
The United States, again the largest export market
But not only for salmon, as was already the case in January, in February the United States was the largest market for all Norwegian seafood exports, followed by Poland and Denmark. A full 10% of the seafood export value went to the USA in February. The Norwegian Seafood Council points out that we have to go back to 1989 to find a similarly high proportion of Norwegian seafood exports going to the USA in one month.
Trout also found its biggest market in the USA in February, but last month this species suffered a drop in both value and, above all, volume. The export value fell NOK 3 million, down 1%, but Norway exported 2,946 tons of trout for NOK 325 million in February, 26% less than last year in the same period. February also saw a drop in the volume of herring exports. King crab suffered a drop in value, as did snow crab, whose export prices halved. However, there was also growth for species such as mackerel, or shrimp, which rose in both volume and value.
Regarding cod, in February, Norway exported 7,927 tons of fresh cod worth NOK 488 million. This means a 2% increase in value, but volume fell by 21%. The Norwegian Seafood Council remarks that its necessary to go back to 2013 to find the previous February with a lower volume of fresh cod exports. “Bad weather has contributed to landings in January and February being significantly lower than in 2022, resulting in lower export”, said Eivind Hestvik Brækkan, Seafood Analyst with the NSC.
Meanwhile, farmed cod continued to increase in volume, by 66%, and in value, by 88%. There was also a higher export value for skrei, up 20%, although volume fell by 16%. In the case of frozen cod, both value (-16%) and volume (-32%) fell. Finally, for cod clipfish, although the value of exports remained unchanged, the volume fell by half.
About Norwegian Seafood Council
The Norwegian Seafood Council works with the fishing and aquaculture industries in Norway to develop markets for Norwegian seafood products through local market intelligence, market development, and reputational risk management. The NSC is a public company owned by the Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Fisheries. Based in Tromsø, it maintains local representatives in twelve of Norway’s most important international markets. The Norwegian fishing industry finances its activities through a tariff on all Norwegian seafood exports.