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Salmon helps Norway leap to new seafood export record

Earnings from salmon exports comprised around two-thirds of the record £5.91 billion Norway made from seafood exports in the first six months of this year. Photo: Norwegian Seafood Council.
Earnings from salmon exports comprised around two-thirds of the record £5.91 billion Norway made from seafood exports in the first six months of this year. Photo: Norwegian Seafood Council.

High salmon prices helped Norway earn a record NOK 71.1 billion (£5.91 bn) from seafood exports in the first half of 2022, the Norwegian Seafood Council said today.

Norway exported 534,500 tonnes of salmon exported to a value of NOK 48.4 bn in the first half of the year. The salmon export volume fell by 5% compared with the first half of last year, but high prices meant that export value increased by NOK 13.2 bn, or 37%, compared with H1 2021.

The average price for fresh whole salmon increased from NOK 58.29 per kg to NOK 87.37 per kg.

Poland, France and the United States were the largest recipients of salmon from Norway in the first half of the year.

Paul T Aandahl:
Paul T Aandahl: "Years without growth in volume globally give strong price growth."

More demand, fewer fish

“Both record price and record value come as a result of a combination of demand growth and reduced production of Atlantic salmon globally,” said Paul T Aandahl, seafood analyst with the Norwegian Seafood Council.

“From a historical perspective, we see that years without growth in volume globally give strong price growth. This is the fourth time since 2010 that the price has risen, so it is a pattern we see from time to time.”

At the same time as the supply volume is decreasing, demand is increasing. This is partly due to increased sales to the hotel and restaurant sector.

Far East fall

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and subsequent closure of airspace are also causing export declines.

“The war has led to reduced exports to Ukraine and Belarus. For the export of fresh salmon to Asia, closed Russian airspace has had a great effect. In particular, this has affected exports to countries such as South Korea and Japan. In total, exports of fresh salmon to these countries have fallen by 18 and 20%, respectively, measured in volume,” said Aandahl.

To France, the value increased by 50%, while the export volume increased by 7%. Exports to Italy increased by 62% in value, while volume increased by 3%.

Paul Aandahl

The price increase has also led to a distortion in the flow of goods from countries where salmon largely go for smoking before further export. The export volume to Poland, for example, has fallen by 18%.

“The largest increase in value has been to France and Italy. To France, the value increased by 50%, while the export volume increased by 7%. Exports to Italy increased by 62% in value, while volume increased by 3%,” said Aandahl.

Last month was the best month ever for salmon exports, measured in value, surpassing the previous record from December 2021.

In June, Norwegian producers exported 87,800 tonnes of salmon – 11% less than in June 2021 - for NOK 8.8 bn, a value increase of NOK 2.6 bn, or 41%, compared with June last year.

Trout up to third place

Export earnings from Norwegian trout have also fared well.

Norway exported 23,800 tonnes of trout for NOK 2.1 bn in the first half of the year. The export volume fell by 5% but the export value increased by NOK 562 million, or 35%, compared with the first half of last year.

The USA, Thailand and Japan were the largest markets for Norwegian trout, which is the third-largest species so far this year, measured in export value. It is only beaten by salmon and cod.

“Trout has seen about the same change in export value as salmon,” said Aandahl. “The trout price tends to follow salmon prices quite closely. The average export price for fresh whole trout was NOK 89.65 per kg, compared with NOK 87.38 per kg for salmon. Belarus and Ukraine are the markets that have declined the most in value so far this year, while Thailand and the USA are the markets that have had the greatest growth.”

June saw a 7% fall in the export volume of trout to 4,700 tonnes compared to June 2021, but the export value rose sharply to NOK 476m, which is a 44% on the export value year on year.

Bjørnar Skjæran:
Bjørnar Skjæran: "We will continue to work for further growth in exports."

Long-term plan

Fisheries minister Bjørnar Skjæran said he was pleased Norwegian seafood was in demand but stressed that high prices were due to complex conditions and that the sector must be prepared for changing prices in the future.

“Active and long-term marketing work will therefore be important in the time ahead. The government has very high ambitions for the seafood industry. Together with the industry, we will continue to work for further growth in exports and set new records,” said Skjæran.

Børge Grønbech, acting chief executive of the Norwegian Seafood Council, pointed to challenges that may slow future growth, including high food inflation, weakened purchasing power, and increased costs for seafood players.

“Even though Norwegian seafood has a very strong global position and exports are constantly setting new records, it is easy to forget that the Norwegian seafood industry is also affected by high inflation and increasing production costs. For many players, the first half of the year has therefore been demanding,” said Grønbech.