norwegian seafood market

Norway: Record High Seafood Exports in 2021

Way to go, Norway. Congratulations on a record year of seafood exports in 2021. It seems that the last 12 months have been the best year ever for Norwegian seafood exports. Norway exported 3.1 million tonnes of seafood worth NOK 120.8 billion in 2021. This sets a record in both volume and value and represents the equivalent of 42 million seafood meals every single day of the year.

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“2021 was another exciting export year for Norwegian seafood. We are in the very favourable position of having products in high demand the world over – even in times of crisis. This has resulted in a growth in demand, record export volumes and a total export value that Norway has never experienced before. This is impressive and shows that Norwegian seafood is one of Norway’s key industries for the future”, says Renate Larsen, CEO of the Norwegian Seafood Council.

Many seafood records broken in 2021

Seafood exports in 2021 set many records. Here are some of them:

  • For the first time, the total export volume exceeded 3 million tonnes.
  • The increase in value was as much as NOK 15.1 billion, or 14.3 per cent, compared with 2020.
  • The previous record in export value from 2019 of NOK 107.2 billion was broken by NOK 13.6 billion, or 12.7 per cent.
  • In December, seafood worth NOK 12 billion was exported. This is a new record for this month.
  • Solid export records were also set for, amongst others, salmon, king crab, snow crab and mackerel.

Fantastic results

”Despite a challenging year, the seafood industry has delivered fantastic results. The government has very high ambitions for the seafood industry. Together with all the skilled professionals in the seafood industry, we will continue to work for further growth in the export of climate-friendly food, more activity along the coast and the setting of further impressive new records”, says Norwegian Minister of Fisheries and Marine Affairs Bjørnar Skjæran.

Stable seafood operating frameworks and good market access

Despite the fact that 2021 was undeniably a record year on many fronts, the Norwegian Seafood Council’s CEO Renate Larsen emphasizes that the entire value chain has, to varying degrees, been able to take part in this remarkable Norwegian export success story.

“We must be careful when interpreting “export growth” as “increased profitability” for everyone. Challenges with market access and increased costs related to operations, purchasing and distribution led to lower margins in parts of the industry last year. To be able to develop, invest and continue to be a leading seafood nation, the industry needs stable operating frameworks and good market access”, says Renate Larsen.

Seafood represents the times we live in

Seafood is one of Norway’s largest export sectors and one that has seen the greatest growth. In 10 years, the sector´s value has more than doubled, from NOK 47.7 billion in 2012 to NOK 120.8 billion in 2021.

“The corona pandemic also impacted exports in 2021 and caused changes in everything from trading patterns to transport and flow of goods. The fact that there has still been export records in both volume and value should be credited to the entire Norwegian seafood industry. Every single day the industry delivers products that are aligned with the times we live in. Norwegian seafood enjoys a strong global position, a good reputation and scores high on important consumer drivers such as sustainability, taste, accessibility, health and wellness”, says Renate Larsen.

These are the leading seafood export species

This is an overview of seafood exports in 2021, broken down by the export value of the largest species and compared with the previous year:

  • Salmon NOK 81.4 billion (+ 16%)
  • Cod NOK 9.8 billion (+ 2%)
  • Mackerel NOK 5.9 billion (+ 18%)
  • Herring 4.2 billion kroner (+11%)
  • Trout NOK 4 billion (+ 5%)
  • Saithe 2.5 billion kroner (+7%)

Strengthened Norwegian krone

“In 2021, Norwegian seafood experienced a significant uplift in demand, which we see in the form of increased export volumes and higher prices in local currency for a number of species and products. On the other hand, the Norwegian krone has strengthened in 2021 compared with 2020. Had it not been for this currency strengthening, the export value could actually have been over NOK 6 billion higher”, says Renate Larsen.

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Quarterly seafood developments in 2021

The overview of export development in 2021 shows that second half-yearly growth was strongest compared with the previous year:

  • 1st quarter: NOK 27.8 billion (-3%)
  • 2nd quarter: NOK 26 billion (+ 5%)
  • 3rd quarter: NOK 31 billion (+31%)
  • 4th quarter: NOK 36.2 billion (+ 25%)

A strong year for aquaculture

The ratio between aquaculture and fisheries has changed little since 2020. The export value derived from aquaculture is 71 per cent, while the proportion by volume is 44 per cent.

  • In 2021, Norway exported 1.4 million tonnes of fish from aquaculture.
  • The export value was NOK 85.7 billion.
  • Export volume increased by 11 per cent compared with the previous year.
  • Export value increased by NOK 15.1 billion, or 16 per cent, compared with 2020.

Growth for fisheries

Fisheries make up 29 per cent of the total seafood exports measured in value, while in volume they make up 56 per cent.

  • For fisheries, the export volume was 1.7 million tonnes.
  • The value was NOK 35.1 billion.
  • 2021 saw an increase of 13.8 per cent in volume.
  • The value increased by NOK 3.5 billion, or 11 per cent, compared with 2020.

Highest export value for salmon

Salmon exports were in a class of their own amongst Norwegian seafood exports in 2021. It was a very strong year, with records set in both volume and value.

  • Exports totalled 1.3 million tonnes.
  • Export value amounted to NOK 81.4 billion.
  • Export volume increased by 13 per cent compared to 2020.
  • Export value increased by NOK 11.3 billion, or 16 per cent, compared with 2020.

“Despite the corona pandemic still making its mark on the markets, we had another record year for Norwegian salmon exports. Gradual reopening increased social contact and open restaurants lifted demand in 2021. Salmon has obviously adapted to the new ways of buying food, such as home delivery and takeaway”, says Paul T. Aandahl, Seafood Analyst with the Norwegian Seafood Council.

Packaged fresh seafood products proving popular

High household consumption is still contributing to higher demand for processed products than before the pandemic almost two years ago.

“In 2020 and 2021, freshly packaged products have seen the biggest retail increases in both Europe and the USA. During this period, salmon has become cheaper for consumers and more competitive with other protein sources such as meat and other seafood”, says Paul T. Aandahl.

Increased home seafood consumption in Italy

Our largest growth market last year was the Netherlands, where a lot of salmon is processed for onward export. The second largest growth market was Italy.

“Home consumption in Italy has increased in line with the supply of novel products, and Norwegian salmon is gaining increasing focus in the grocery trade”, says Gunvar L. Wie, the Norwegian Seafood Council’s envoy to Italy.

Significant seafood industry growth in France

The same trend is also seen in France. In 2021, this was Norway’s third-largest growth market measured in value and is our second-largest total market for salmon.

“Last year we saw a fantastic development in exports to France, with an increase of 15 per cent in value. Although the restaurants opened in the summer, there was still a high rate of home consumption. Norwegian salmon has strengthened its position in France, and French consumers want to eat even more healthy, tasty and sustainable Norwegian salmon”, says Trine Horne, the Norwegian Seafood Council’s envoy to France.

A record year for trout exports

Trout has been the other major export species.

  • In 2021, 73,300 tonnes of trout were exported.
  • Export value was NOK 4 billion.
  • Export volume fell by 12 per cent.
  • The value of trout exports increased by NOK 181 million, or 5 per cent, from 2020.

Trout exports achieved a record high in export value in 2021. The previous export record was in 2016, with NOK 3.9 billion.

“Trout production was reduced in 2021, which resulted in a reduction in exported volume. 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 per cent to NOK 58.70 per kg, the trout price increased by 19 per cent to NOK 59.20 per kg”, says Paul T. Aandahl seafood analyst in the Norwegian Seafood Council.

Growth for cod

Cod is the largest species in the catching sector, measured in value.

  • · Exports of cod in 2021 were 199,000 tonnes
  • · Export value was NOK 9.8 billion.
  • · Export volume increased by 15 per cent from 2020.
  • · Export value increased by NOK 178 million, or 2 per cent, compared with 2020.

High export volumes in a market still impacted by the pandemic resulted in low prices during the cod season last year.

Overall, for 2021, the export price for fresh whole cod was 16 per cent lower than in 2020, with volume growth of 33 per cent. Frozen whole cod had a price decrease of 8 per cent and volume growth of 12 per cent. Read the rest of the lengthy report when you have time to kill, here.