NORWEGIAN fishermen are continuing to enjoy an export boom as sales of the main white fish species show a steady increase.
Figures from the Norwegian Seafood Council reveal that the country exported 129,000 tonnes of cod, haddock and saithe during the first quarter of this year with a total value of NOK 4.2 billion.
As with salmon, demand from China is driving up demand. The volume was up by five per cent on the previous year and value up by six per cent.
The Seafood Council said the biggest increase was for frozen products, particularly frozen whole fish. But there was also a substantial increase in exports of whole clipfish.
The figures for March this year were even more encouraging, with Norway exporting cod, saithe, haddock and other white fish worth NOK 1.6 billion. This is an increase of 16 per cent in both volume and value on last year.
Ingrid Kristine Pettersen, codfish analyst at the Norwegian Seafood Council, said: ‘Exports of fresh whole Norwegian cod increased by NOK 50 million in value during the first quarter compared with the same period in 2016.
‘The export value of whole quality marked skrei decreased by six per cent. This is due to a corresponding reduction in volume of six per cent. Cod prices have increased across most categories.
‘Meanwhile, the rise in raw material prices has been higher than the export prices, which is also contributing to margin pressure for the industry.
‘The increase in value for frozen whole fish is primarily due to increased exports of frozen whole haddock to China.’
She added: ‘Easter sales of clipfish to Brazil are now complete, and this has led to both volume and value increases compared with Easter 2016.’
Other figures show exports of fresh white fish reached 45,464 tonnes and were worth NOK 1.4 billion in the first quarter, down slightly on last year.
Sales of fresh cod were worth NOK 967 million, up by nine per cent. Exports of skrei, Norway’s premium quality cod fell by NOK 8.9 million to NOK 153 million.
Frozen haddock sales did well between January and March this year, increasing in value by 16 per cent (NOK 95 million) to NOK 346 million.
Almost half of haddock exports went to China. Salted fish exports, which are sold mainly to Spain and Portugal, fell by NOK 69 million (16 per vent) to NOK 364 million.