Seafood sales soar to another record

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Even though salmon prices recently sank from record highs, Norway’s seafood industry is swimming in profits. High prices for cod and salmon last winter, along with the reopening of important markets, are likely to generate record revenues of NOK 100 billion this year.

Sales of cod and salmon led the surge in seafood exports during the first half of this year. PHOTO: Nærings- og fiskeridepartementet

Exports during the first half brought in a record NOK 48.1 billion (USD 6 billion), solidifying seafood as Norway’s second most important industry after oil and gas. Norway’s national seafood council (Norges sjømatråd) noted that sales of klippfisk (dried cod, exported to countries like Brazil and Portugal to make bacalao) were also strong.

France, meanwhile, made a strong comeback as a major export market for Norwegian salmon. High prices and reports of problems at fish farming operations had led to a major fall in exports to France in 2013 and 2014, but sales jumped by a half-billion kroner, from NOK 3 billion to NOK 3.5 billion during the first half of this year.

“France is back,” Norway’s seafood envoy to France, Maria Grimstad de Perlinghi, told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN).

Fisheries Minister Per Sandberg has been courting Chinese favour, here with journalists from China in Oslo last year. PHOTO: Sjømatrådet

So is China, which re-established diplomatic relations with Norway last year and has now opened its borders to imports from Norway’s counties of Troms, Nordland, Trøndelag after several years of not allowing them.

“That’s of course very nice, that the suspension of Troms, Nordland and Trøndelag is over,” said Merete Kristiansen, commercial director of Nordlaks, which markets salmon abroad. “But we still don’t know what it will really mean. China was an important market for us earlier, and we hope it will develop again.”

Fisheries Minister Per Sandberg, who was back in China promoting Norwegian seafood in late May, thinks it’s great news. He thought the import ban was dropped sooner than expected and that Chinese consumers are eager to get Norwegian salmon.

Cod catching on
Cod prices also reached record highs during the first half of this year, leading to an export record for it, too. While exporters paid high prices to those fishing it out of the cold seas off the Norwegian coast, several told DN they didn’t generate a corresponding increase from consumers. Some of them lost money, because the retail market wasn’t as good as the wholesale market.

All told, Norway exported 1.4 million tons of seafood valued at NOK 48.1 billion from January through June. Volume rose by 10 percent over the same period last year, while krone value rose by NOK 1.85 billion, or 4 percent. Even though salmon accounts for the largest portion of the seafood market, the first half of 2018 was also the best ever for cod and other white fish.

“The most important factor is increased demand from the EU,” wrote Paul Aandahl of the seafood council in a press release. “We’re seeing a clear increase in consumption in France, Great Britain and Italy. A strong euro and British pound also contributed positively.”

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund