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Record quarter for Norwegian cod

Norwegian cod exports achieved a record value in the first quarter of the year, topping NOK 3 billion (£273 million).

"This is the best quarter for cod ever, with a total export value of over NOK 3 billion. Clipfish, salted fish and fresh whole cod in particular have experienced price increases - of 19, 12 and 7 per cent respectively. This is due to strong demand in our most important consumer markets, such as Portugal and Spain”, says Ingrid Kristine Pettersen, an analyst with the Norwegian Seafood Council.

Norway exported 21,500 tonnes of clipfish (dried and salted whitefish) with a value of NOK 943 million in the first quarter - a decrease of 3 percent in volume, but a 3 percent increase in value. Portugal, Brazil and the Dominican Republic were the main markets for clipfish in the first quarter.

"We see that especially cod clipfish enhances the value of the clipfish category. This is due to a sharp rise in prices, in particular, demand has remained strong for clipfish in Portugal. This price increase has been passed along to the consumer. At the same time, we have seen a slight decline in clipfish consumption in the home market in recent years. On the other hand, consumption figures suggest that total consumption (both domestic and abroad) has not fallen noticeably. It appears that the traditional dried and salted cut fish are more sensitive to price increases than frozen fish," says Johnny Thomassen, Director with the Norwegian Seafood Council's operations in Portugal.

Norway exported 8,700 tonnes of salted fish with a value of NOK 429 million in the first quarter. This is an increase in volume of 4 per cent, and an increase in value of 19 per cent. Portugal, Greece and Spain were the main markets for salted fish in the first quarter.

Fresh cod exports, including skrei, amounted to 32,000 tonnes, worth NOK 1.1 billion, in the first quarter. This is a slight decrease in volume from last year, while export value has increased by NOK 42 million or 4 per cent. Of this, Skrei accounts for 4,300 tonnes, which is an increase of 3 per cent. Norway exported NOK 166 million in the first quarter. This is an increase of 9 per cent compared to the same period last year.

Norway exported 22,000 tonnes of frozen cod with a value of NOK 772 million in the first quarter. This is an increase in volume of 5 per cent, while export values increased by 13 per cent.

"Usually we see that the price of fresh whole cod and skrei declines in March, but this year the price has actually increased. Skrei volumes have also increased during the same period,” says Pettersen.

Short-lived salmon slump

Norway’s salmon exports increased by 6 percent to reach 246,000 tonnes, but the value fell by 1.5 percent to NOK 15.8 billion as the average price for fresh whole salmon fell from NOK 65.43 to NOK 61.11 per kg. Poland, France and the United States were the largest markets for Norwegian salmon in the first quarter.

Despite a poor Q1 for salmon, the outlook is relatively optimisitic.

"A strong growth in salmon prices in recent months means that we are optimistic about the further development of seafood exports for 2018. For example, the average price in November for fresh whole salmon was NOK 50.50 per kg. In March, this had risen to NOK 67.59 per kg. High campaign activity in large markets such as France, Britain and Italy in combination with a strong Euro has contributed to a price boost for salmon," said Paul T Aandahl, analyst with the Norwegian Seafood Council.

Meanwhile trout export volumes increased by 14 percent to reach 9,800 tonnes, but the value dropped by 6 percent to NOK 633 million. Belarus, the US and Poland were the largest markets.

Rob Fletcher

Rob Fletcher

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