White fish exports helped by steady price rise

EXPORTS of Norwegian white fish such as cod, haddock and saithe in 2017 hit a record for the fourth year in succession.

The fleet earned 15 billion kroners (£1.36 billion) for the country’s vessel owners, a rise of eight per cent or NOK 1.1 billion on 2016.

The increase has primarily come from higher catches and a rise in export volumes. Increased volume, especially of saithe, has led to somewhat lower export prices, but to compensate the industry has seen a positive price trend on both haddock and cod.

Ingrid Kristine Pettersen, white fish analyst at the Norwegian Seafood Council, said: ‘The cod quotas have remained stable, while the quotas on saithe increased a great deal in 2017, which is very likely the main explanation for the reduced prices.

‘A weakened Norwegian kroner in 2017 has probably also contributed a little to the increase in value in 2017, while at the same time we see that a weak pound has had consequences in the form of reduced exports to the United Kingdom.

‘The quotas on cod and haddock have been reduced for 2018, and there will be major competition for the raw material, which probably will lead to a price increase this year.’

Shipments of fresh white fish reached 114,283 tonnes and were worth NOK 3.4 billion, up by NOK 392 million, or seven per cent. Cod accounted for NOK 2.3 billion.

Exports of frozen white fish at 199,731 tonnes were worth NOK 5.3 billion, NOK 427 million more than in 2016. Cod accounted for 84,423 tonnes of that total and netted NOK 2.7 billion.

China has emerged as the largest market for frozen white fish. With an increase in volume of 20 per cent and value to NOK 2 billion on 2016, exports to China are now just over the record year of 2014, both in volume and value.

At the same time, there has been a reduction in exports of frozen white fish to the UK of 5,796 tonnes, or 18 per cent. This, says the Seafood Council, was due to a decline in both frozen whole haddock and cod.

However, there was a small increase for frozen fillets. The remainder of white fish exports are made up of clipfish at NOK 4.1 billion, salted fish at NOK 1.3 billion and stockfish heads at NOK 915 million.

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