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Herring and mackerel are poor business

NORWAY - Companies processing herring and mackerel made a loss of more than NOK 100 million last year, and preliminary analyses by Fiskeriforskning reveal that, overall, they have not made a profit in the last decade.

Around fifty companies process herring and mackerel. They are an extremely important sector of the Norwegian fishing industry, but last year turnover was NOK 4.6 billion, which comprises a third of the total export of wild fish.

The companies primarily produce frozen herring filet and frozen whole herring and mackerel, almost all of which is exported. However, last year export revenues fell by 25 per cent due to a low export price and reduced production.

Weak profitability over a long period

For many years, the industry has battled against poor profitability. Researcher Bjørn Inge Bendiksen has several explanations for the poor results.

"Strong competition for raw materials has contributed to forcing up the prices of raw materials, and this competition is partly due to over-capacity within the industry. The situation has resulted in large variations in the price of raw materials and many companies have paid more than they can afford," comments Bendiksen.

Furthermore, herring and mackerel are sold in markets in which Norwegian stakeholders compete against each other. This summer, two of the largest stakeholders and three other companies in this sector merged in the hope of increasing profitability.

Every year, Fiskeriforskning conduct a profitability analysis of the Norwegian fishing industry. The final results of the analysis will be available in the autumn.