Despite the war in Ukraine and rising global tension, Norwegian seafood exports again hit new records last month and during the first quarter of this year.

Once again salmon was the main export engine with sales in March totalling an all-time monthly high of NOK 8.5bn (£745m).

This means that Norway sold 283,200 tonnes of salmon worth NOK 23.2bn (£2bn) in the first quarter of this year. Volumes were down by 5%, but the value rose by 33% or NOK 5.7bn (£500m).

The average price for fresh whole salmon reached NOK 78.37 per kilo during the quarter, up from NOK 54.29 12 months ago.

All this was achieved in a period beset by conflict, the re-emergence of coronavirus in parts of China and major disruption to air routes.

Overall seafood exports, which include cod and haddock pelagic species and shellfish, totalled NOK 34bn (almost £3bn) during the January to March period.

Renate Larsen, CEO of the Norwegian Seafood Council, said: “ We had the lowest export volume of Norwegian seafood in a first quarter of six years.

“The value record is therefore driven by strong price growth for many species. The salmon price has remained at a high level, at the same time as we have a record value for cod and saithe so far this year.”

She added: ”The value record must also be seen in connection with higher costs related to energy, fuel, shipping and other input factors for the capture and production of seafood in various parts of the value chain.”

The United States, significantly, became the largest growth market followed by France and China.

Seafood Council analyst Paul T, Aandahl said the war and sanctions had led to a halt in seafood exports to Belarus and Ukraine, but added that the loss of salmon exports to those two countries had had a relatively small impact.

Closed airspace over Russia, on the other hand, has complicated the export of live king crabs to Asia, which plunged 74 percent in March.

The value of farmed trout exports rose by 26% to NOK 945m (£82m) during the quarter,

It was also the best ever quarter for fresh and frozen cod which together reached a combined total of NOK 2.6bn (£228m). Despite high prices demand for cod remains strong, particularly from Europe.

Renate Larsen

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