Drive to maintain seafood production and exports
Norwegian producers and exports are making efforts to maintain the flow of seafood to export markets. Image: Norwegian Seafood Council

Drive to maintain seafood production and exports

In the face of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Norwegian wild fisheries and aquaculture are both considered of key importance. According to the Norwegian Seafood Council, government, industry and the transport sector are working to maintain the production and supply of seafood from Norway.

‘We have seen a real drive to keep Norwegian seafood production and exports going amid the Corona pandemic. Producers and their customers all over the world are finding solutions and overcoming hurdles to deliver nutritious and top-quality seafood, despite the crisis. So far, production levels and catches are at a relatively normal level,’ said Seafood Council CEO Renate Larsen.

Many markets are reporting increased demand for processed and pre-packed seafood, as well as products with longer sell-by dates, such as clipfish and frozen fish. But the logistics are challenging and efforts are being made to maintain all shipments and cargo activities to ensure a steady supply of Norwegian seafood.

Currently the main challenges are related to the closure of the restaurant segment globally, while there is still considerable uncertainty related to future demand and logistics. There is a noticeable tendency towards a gradual normalisation in Asian countries such as China and South Korea.

‘As in previous weeks, we are seeing a continued reduction for fresh seafood and an increase in frozen and conventional products,’ said Paul Aandahl, seafood analyst at the Norwegian Seafood Council.

‘Easter sales are about to start in earnest and fresh salmon exports to the UK and Sweden increased by 27% and 52% respectively last week. Saltfish and clipfish also increased by 42% and 23% respectively in week 13. It is reported that planned Easter promotions in grocery stores in several markets are going as normal. This helps to reduce some of the negative impact we have seen as a result of the loss of the restaurant segment,’ he said, commenting that the weakness of the Norwegian currency continues to compensate for reduced demand.

‘In week 13 we see a 22% reduction in the value of NOK against the euro and 27% against the US dollar. While the export price to the EU for fresh whole salmon fell by 10% in NOK, the price measured in euros was 27% lower than last year.’

According to Victoria Braathen, the Seafood Council’s country director in China, gradual steps towards a more normalised everyday life are visible.

‘There has been a steady growth in salmon exports to China, from 10 tonnes in week 5 to 519 tonnes in week 13. However, it is still 18% less than the same week last year. Week 13 in 2019 was also one of the strongest weeks in all of 2019. The export of fresh salmon to China of 519 tonnes in week 13 shows a market with gradually increased demand. Conditions this winter have favoured grocery and online sales, and we are now seeing that some restaurants are on the way back. Still, several precautionary measures are in place and great attention is paid to how the pandemic evolves outside of China,’ Victoria Braathen said.

‘The reduction in fresh fish exports affects most of our white fish species, including cod,’ commented seafood analyst Ingrid Kristine Pettersen.

‘In week 13 we see the largest fall for fresh whole cod that we have seen so far, down 43% compared to the same week last year. After a very good start to the year for the export of fresh whole cod, we see the fall that started in week 11 has continued into week 13.’

She said that both frozen whole cod and haddock have experienced significant growth in week 13, by 28 and 80% respectively.

‘The frozen cod is mainly exported to China. A weak Norwegian krone contributes to prices in NOK remaining stable for both fresh and frozen products, compared to week 13 last year,’ Ingrid Kristine Pettersen said.

‘Saltfish and clipfish exports continue the good development, especially to Portugal. There was a 17% increase in exports of clipfish to Portugal in week 13, and a 47% increase in exports of saltfish. While the price in Norwegian kroner goes up, in Euro it remains relatively stable.’