The monthly value of Norwegian salmon exports (NOK billions). Graphic: Norwegian Seafood Council / FFE.
The monthly value of Norwegian salmon exports (NOK billions). Graphic: Norwegian Seafood Council / FFE.

Salmon demand helps Norway break seafood export earnings record

An increased volume of farmed salmon shipped abroad helped Norway to achieve record high seafood export earnings in the first half of this year.


The country exported seafood worth NOK 53.7 billion (£4.5bn), which is just over 1% more than seafood exports earned in the same period last year.

Norway exported 562,000 tonnes of salmon for NOK 35.3bn in H1 2021, an increase in volume of 12%. However, the value increased by just NOK 416m, or just over 1%, due to lower prices. The average price for fresh whole salmon fell from NOK 64.96 to NOK 58.30 per kilo.

Growth in Italy

Poland – where a lot of imported salmon is processed into value-added products before being re-exported - France and the United States were the largest recipients of salmon from Norway in the first half of the year.

“Italy is the largest growth market for salmon in the first half of the year,” said Paul Aandahl, a seafood analyst with the Norwegian Seafood Council.

“This must be seen in connection with gradual easing of measures against the Covid pandemic compared with the situation in the first half of 2020. Increased home consumption, growth in the takeaway segment and a gradual reopening of the restaurant sector are the reasons for the positive figures.”

Fewer trout grown

Reduced production of trout meant it went the opposite way to salmon – export volume fell by 20% but its relative scarcity meant the average price for fresh whole trout increased from NOK 54.30 to NOK 59.51 in the first half of the year.

Norway exported 25,000 tonnes of trout for NOK 1.6bn from January until the end of June, with the US, Belarus and Ukraine the largest markets.

South Korea

Overall, the South Korean market showed the greatest value growth in the first half of the year, increasing by NOK 358m to NOK 1.9 billion. Salmon, mackerel and king crab are the species that increased the most in this market.

“South Korea is an exciting growth market,” said Norwegian Seafood Council chief executive Renate Larsen.

“In the first half of 2021, several supermarket chains have run large national campaigns on Norwegian salmon and mackerel, which has contributed to a sharp growth in demand. The increase in seafood sales comes both in stores and online stores. At some grocery chains, online shopping of Norwegian mackerel accounts for up to 30% of turnover.”

Crustaceans up 70%

The product group to show the largest value growth in H1 2021 has been crustaceans, up by NOK 698m (70%) to NOK 1.7 billion.

“June was the best single month ever for Norwegian shellfish. That put a worthy end to the strongest half-year ever,” said Larsen. “Snow crab and king crab have had the greatest value growth, but also smaller species such as crayfish and brown crab have broken all previous records for the first half of the year.”

Cod didn’t fare so well, experiencing a decline of NOK 441m (8%) in export value to NOK 5.27bn. Export volumes and earnings for fresh cod rose by 35% and 9% respectively but were more than offset by a fall in the value of frozen cod and salted cod.