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Salmon leads the way as Norway sets seafood records

Salmon was by far the most valuable species in Norwegian seafood exports in 2021. Illustration photo: Colorbox.
Salmon was by far the most valuable species in Norwegian seafood exports in 2021. Illustration photo: Colorbox.

Norway exported a record 1.3 million tonnes of farmed salmon last year, an increase of 13% compared to 2020.

The value was NOK 81.4 billion (£7.02bn), which was also a record. Salmon exports earned NOK 11.3bn, or 16%, more than in 2020.

“Despite the Covid-19 pandemic still making its mark on the markets, we had another record year for Norwegian salmon exports,” said Paul Aandahl, seafood analyst for the Norwegian Seafood Council.

Paul Aandahl:
Paul Aandahl: "Compared to other protein sources such as meat and other seafood, salmon has become cheaper for consumers and more competitive."

“A reopening of society, increased socialisation and open restaurants raised demand in 2021. Salmon has obviously adapted to the new ways of buying food, such as home delivery and takeaway.”

Eating at home

High household consumption continues to contribute to higher demand for processed products than before the pandemic almost two years ago.

“In 2020 and 2021, freshly packaged products have increased the most in retail in both Europe and the USA. Compared to other protein sources such as meat and other seafood, salmon has become cheaper for consumers and more competitive during this period,” said Aandahl.

The largest growth market for Norwegian salmon last year was the Netherlands, where a lot of salmon is further processed for further export. The second and third largest growth markets were Italy and France respectively.

Trout makes more

Exports of farmed trout also achieved record earnings of NOK 4bn, up 5% on 2020 despite export volume falling by 12% to 73,300 tonnes.

“Trout production was reduced in 2021, which resulted in a reduction in exported volume,” said Aandahl. “The price for fresh whole trout increased relatively more than the price for fresh whole salmon in 2021. While the price for fresh whole salmon increased by 4% to NOK 58.70 per kilo, the trout price increased by 19% to NOK 59.20 per kilo.”

In total, Norway exported 3.1 million tonnes of seafood worth NOK 120.8 billion last year, a record in both volume and value. Aquaculture exports accounted for 71% of that value and 44% of the volume.

The top six export species, broken down by export value and compared to the previous year, were:

Salmon NOK 81.4bn (+ 16%)
Cod NOK 9.8bn (+ 2%)
Mackerel NOK 5.9bn (+ 18%)
Herring NOK 4.2bn (+11%)
Trout NOK 4bn (+ 5%)
Pollock NOK 2.5bn(+7%)
Norwegian annual export earnings from farmed salmon (in NOK billions). Original graphic: Norwegian Seafood Council.
Norwegian annual export earnings from farmed salmon (in NOK billions). Original graphic: Norwegian Seafood Council.