Norwegian Seafood Exports Set Record; Poland Top Market

It was up, up and away for sales of Norwegian seafood in 2018, as exports hit 2.7 million tons to establish a new record of NOK 99 billion in receipts. This represents a volume increase of 4 per cent and a value increase of 5 per cent, or NOK 4.6 billion compared to 2017, and equates to 37 million meals of fishery products every day in 2018. That’s 25,700 meals per minute!

sfn graphic01“Although we did not pass the magical 100 billion kroner marker, this has been another good year for Norwegian seafood exports,” said Renate Larsen, chief executive officer of the Norwegian Seafood Council (NSC). “In summary, records were broken both in terms of export value and export volume in 2018. This despite Brexit, the threat of trade wars and other challenges that have together created unpredictability in the world market. Seafood exports to the EU have increased due to lower competition and a favorable currency situation against the euro. We saw a decline in seafood exports to Asia, as a result of increased competition and continued challenging market access to China.”

Over the past 10 years, the value of Norwegian seafood exports has increased by an impressive 156 per cent.

The relationship between aquaculture and fisheries has changed little since 2017. Farm-raised output accounts for 72 per cent of export value, and 40.5 per cent of the volume of total seafood exports during 2018.

Norway exported 1.1 million tons of farmed fish with a value of NOK 71 billion last year. Volume increased by 5 per cent, while value rose by NOK 3.4 billion, or 5 per cent over 2017.

Fisheries account for 28 per cent by value, and 59.5 per cent of volume. The nation’s producers exported 1.6 million tons of fish and shellfish with a total value of NOK 28 billion in 2018. This is an increase of 2 per cent by volume, and NOK 1.2 billion or 4 per cent by value compared to 2017.

“Once again, a new record has been set for Norwegian seafood exports. We have every reason to be proud of that. This is a good and significant result for the Norwegian economy. The seafood industry contributes to value creation and jobs across the country,” said Fisheries Minister Harald Tom Nesvik.

He continued: “While the value of exports has increased by 60 per cent over the past five years, the volume has increased by almost 10 per cent. Greater volume growth is therefore highly desirable in order to develop the industry further. Our goal is for the industry to continue to grow.”

Key Export Species
“In 2018 record export values were measured for salmon, cod, saithe and king crab. We observe a trend in which Norwegian seafood is often imported by another country for processing before distribution to its final consumer market. Typical transit or processing markets for our seafood are Poland, Denmark and the Netherlands, said Paul T. Aandahl, an NSC analyst.

sfn graphic02Salmon claims the largest share of any species measured in terms of both volume and value. Norway exported 1.1 million tons of this fish worth NOK 67.8 billion last year. This is a volume increase of 5 per cent, and a hike in value of NOK 3.2 billion, or 5 per cent over 2017.

“Increased demand for Norwegian salmon in the EU market has contributed to exports to the European Union exceeding 73 per cent – up from 71 per cent in 2017. Poland was the largest growth market in 2018, with exports increasing from NOK 1.1 billion to NOK 8.8 billion,” said Aandahl.

Trout is the second most significant exported farmed species. Norway shipped 46,400 tons of trout worth NOK 3 billion in 2018. This is an increase of 16 per cent by volume, and NOK 127 million or 5 per cent by value compared to 2017.

“The volume growth of 16 per cent for trout exports is the result of normalization following low export volumes in 2017,” explained Aandahl.

sfn graphic03For wild-caught fish, cod is the largest species measured by value. Norway exported 197,000 tons of cod worth NOK 9.4 billion in 2018. This is a decrease of 9 per cent against 2017 figures, but an increase in value of NOK 322 million or 4 per cent compared to last year.

“Export records were broken for the whole whitefish category in terms of value during 2018,” pointed out NSC analyst Ingrid Kristine Pettersen. “Cod exports increased by 4 per cent in value as a result of increased prices, while export records for saithe were primarily due to increased volumes. The EU is the most important whitefish market accounting for 64 per cent of the total export value.”

There are several links in the value chain that have benefited from the rise in cod prices in 2018, some more than others. The price of fishery products has, on average, increased more than the average export price in 2018. The reason for this is, among other factors, strong competition for raw material.

“The price for fresh whole cod increased by 8 per cent in 2018,” noted Pettersen. “The quality mark skrei has contributed to this price increase. Despite the reduction in quotas in 2018, byproducts and waste volumes were at the same level as in 2017. This means that a larger proportion of the cod quota is exported as waste.”

Mackerel is the second largest wild-caught species. Norway exported 255,000 tons worth some NOK 3.8 billion in 2018. This represents a volume decline of 24 per cent, while export value fell by NOK 300 million, or 7 per cent compared to 2017.

“Following the quota council in the autumn, which predicted a large decline in mackerel quotas for 2019, we saw a sharp rise in prices toward the end of 2018. With lower export volumes we see that a larger share of mackerel exports are going to Japan. There is a significant price difference between the markets, and it is important that Norway maintains and develops markets that pay well for mackerel,” said Aandahl.

Herring fetched lower prices in 2018, as Norway shipped 292,000 tons worth NOK 2.6 billion. Volume remained at the same level as 2017, while export value fell by NOK 173 million, or 6 per cent compared to the previous year.

Saithe is the second largest species within the whitefish category. Norway exported 106,000 tons valued at NOK 2.1 billion in 2018. This represents a volume increase of 27 per cent, while the export value increased by NOK 106 million or 12 per cent compared to 2017.

Haddock is the third most important species in the whitefish category. Norway exported 62,000 tons worth NOK 1.7 billion last year. In volume terms, this is a decrease of 18 per cent, while export value was maintained at the same level as 2017.

sfn graphic04Shrimp is the most important species in the shellfish category. Norway exported 10,700 tons worth NOK 831 million in 2018. Export volume rose by 17 per cent, while the value of exports increased by NOK 134 million or 19 per cent from 2017.

Exports of King Crab, the second largest species in the shellfish category, rose to 2,000 tons valued at NOK 579 million. Volume increased by 8 per cent, while value gained NOK 74 million, or 15 per cent compared to 2017.

Processed Seafood Product
“Export records were set for both clipfish and stockfish measured by value in 2018,” reported Pettersen. “The rise in prices for some cod and haddock products was very high. In particular, we see this in fresh and frozen whole product, as well as in clipfish and salted fish. These products have maintained a strong position in markets such as Portugal and Spain, and this is an important driver for this development.”

Norway exported 91,600 tons of clipfish worth NOK 4.2 billion in 2018. This represents an increase of 3 per cent, while export value increased by NOK 180 million, or 4 per cent compared to 2017.

Salted fish exports of 29,000 tons were valued at NOK 1.4 billion last year. This is a volume increase of 3 per cent, while value advanced by NOK 169 million, or 13 per cent over 2017.

Stockfish also posted export growth, as 5,200 tons of sales generated NOK 749 in 2018. This is a volume increase of 12 per cent, while the value rose by NOK 76 million, or 11 per cent compared to 2017.

The proportion of exported herring that is processed is increasing. In 2018, 45 per cent of Norwegian herring shipments were further processed, while 55 per cent were exported unprocessed. In 2017, 42 per cent of Norwegian herring was processed.

28% Processed in Norway
“Over time, the proportion of Norwegian seafood that is processed in Norway has fallen,” commented NSC CEO Larsen. “In 2010, the proportion of unprocessed fish for export from the whitefish sector, pelagic and aquaculture accounted for 67 per cent. In 2018, the proportion of unprocessed fish increased to 72 per cent. The high proportion of unprocessed fish shows that we have values in balance, and there is a great potential for increased value creation in Norway – from increased value from the products themselves, through the efficient use of waste raw materials and the potential to create more jobs.”

Here are processing statistics for the three largest species:

  • 84 per cent of salmon is exported as unprocessed product, with 16 per cent processed before export.
  • Historically, raw cod material has been largely processed, either salted, dried or filleted before leaving the country. However, this proportion has declined in recent years, but nearly 58 per cent of the cod's raw material is still being processed.
  • For mackerel, virtually all raw material is exported unprocessed. In 2018, the proportion of processed fish was 5 per cent.

Main Export Markets
Norway exported 1.7 million tons of seafood to the EU worth NOK 66 billion in 2018. This is an increase of 8 per cent, while the value increased by NOK 5.1 billion, or 8 per cent compared to 2017.

A decline in seafood exports to Asia was registered, as sales of 478,000 tons worth NOK 17.7 billion to Asia in 2018 showed a respective drop of 12 per cent and 5 per cent compared to 2017.

Weak growth in Eastern Europe was reflected in seafood exports of 172,000 tons fetching NOK 3.6 billion in 2018. This is a decrease of 5 per cent, while the value increased by NOK 85 million, or 2 per cent compared to 2017.

Last year marked the first 12-month period in which a single market exceeded NOK 10 billion in export value. Poland ranked as Norway's largest single market measured in export value during 2018, with 228,000 tons of seafood fetching NOK 10.2 billion. This represents a volume increase of 17 per cent and an increase in export value of NOK 1.3 billion, or 14 per cent compared to 2017 .

In 2018, Denmark was the second largest market for Norwegian seafood in terms of export value, as the fellow Scandinavian country bought NOK 8.6 billion worth of fishery products. This is an increase of NOK 438 million, or 5 per cent from the previous year. The largest growth market outside of Poland in 2018 was the United Kingdom. Growth there amounted to NOK 956 million, or 18 per cent, with a total export value of NOK 6.2 billion. This made Britain the fourth most important market for Norwegian seafood exports last year.