March 21, 2020


Norwegian seafood exports face great challenge in European markets amid pandemic



The EU will pose the biggest challenge to Norway's seafood exports amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Norwegian Seafood Council (NSC).


As it is, the EU is the largest and most important region for Norwegian seafood exports, but many countries within the 27-member bloc and the rest of Europe have imposed strict measures to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, as a consequence of which, a large part of the restaurant market has disappeared.


In 2019 Norway exported 1.6 million tonnes of seafood to the EU, valued at NOK68 billion (US$ 5.964 billion). This represents 59% of total seafood exports in terms of volume and 63% in terms of value.

"The biggest challenge for Norwegian seafood going forward will be a possible reduction in consumption in European markets", said the NSC in an industry status update this week, in relation to the ongoing COVIC-19 pandemic.


NSC noted that 30% of European salmon consumption happens in restaurants, hotels and catering. For Norwegian salmon, this segment stands for 24% of total consumption, according to Paul T. Aandahl, seafood analyst at NSC. Salmon is Norway's largest species of fish exports.


Additionally, reduced air freight routes to overseas markets could lead to fewer opportunities for sending fresh fish from Europe to Asia and the US. "It is hard to predict how much fresh fish will go to these regions, as the fish competes for the limited capacity with other goods, such as machine parts and medical equipment", Aandahl explained.


Norway exports 95% of its seafood, and the seafood producers, together with the transport sector, are aiming to keep up supply of Norwegian seafood both in Norway and abroad.


"The Norwegian industry is now working together with the Norwegian government to ensure deliveries and logistics can continue to operate as smoothly as possible in a very uncertain situation", the NSC said.