Market in freefall: Salmon prices drop for the fourth consecutive week

Aslak Berge

Salmon prices have plummeted dramatically for four consecutive weeks, with no signs of stabilizing yet.

“We can now buy at NOK 75 ($6.98/€6.45) in Oslo for all sizes. It’s gone completely crazy. There’s fish left everywhere, and the market just isn’t there. Unfortunately,” comments a salmon trader to SalmonBusiness.

“I believe we’ll see prices below NOK 70 ($6.51/€6.02) soon,” he adds.

“No unsold fish will be bought for next week. Those days are over. We can’t fish without having sales lined up. It has proven to be an economic disaster. This applies to all exporters who have burned through tens of millions. We can’t continue like this,” he says, exasperated.

Few Contracts

He describes a dry market.

“There’s no real price. It’s more like: Can you take fish? What can you pay?”

“It’s surprising. Very few contracts have been made. Many are laid off. It’s not something you can turn around quickly. We’ve dismantled the market. And there are likely economic downturns globally. Now it’s difficult. We’re struggling to find customers willing to buy. Now it’s back-to-back (buying only when there’s a sale).”

“It turned quickly. We’re approaching a price drop of NOK 60 ($5.58/€5.16) in just a few weeks,” he says.

The price peak was reached in April at NOK 137 ($12.74/€11.78) per kilo.

Takes Time

“We don’t trade unless we have a deal with a buyer,” says one trader. “The price settles between NOK 70 and 75 ($6.51-$6.98/€6.02-€6.45). I’d be surprised if it turns out differently. Because so much has been shipped this week, making decisions from the market very challenging.”

“We’re talking about 40 percent more volume in just two to three weeks. It takes a bit of time to get going again. It’s hard to say how it will go, but one must always look at last year. And we’re a couple of weeks ahead of that.”

Descriptions of the market and price levels are echoed by several sources.

“I guess NOK 70-71 ($6.51-$6.60/€6.02-€6.12) for 3-4 kg, NOK 72-73 ($6.70-$6.79/€6.19-€6.28) for 4-5 kg, and NOK 75-76 ($6.98-$7.07/€6.45-€6.54) for 5-6 kg,” says a buyer.

He is clear on what’s driving the price development:

“A lot of volume and less ‘prod’ (production fish) and more ‘sup’ (superior quality). And it’s a market with a broken back after high prices through winter and spring. And there are big buyers with large frozen stocks they need to clear soon.”

Warmer Sea Temperatures

He notes that the seasonal price drop came earlier this year compared to both 2023 and 2022, due to better growth conditions.

“The sea temperature rose earlier than last year. Four weeks earlier. Now we’ve had three weeks of falling prices. I’m curious whether it will turn around or stabilize. But for now, it’s so dead among customers that it’s almost scary.”

Not all market participants are as pessimistic about the price outlook.

“It’s been tough for two to three weeks. Now it has bottomed out. Next week we’ll see an increase. There’s less fish, at least for us,” says a farmer.

“We went up 3,000 tons from the week before. All combined has pushed the price down. Now I think the slaughter pressure is easing. I believe, even though we’re not there right now, that we’ll soon reach NOK 95-100 ($8.84-$9.30/€8.17-€8.60) for salmon again.”

“If we were to sell now, we’d go out with NOK 86-88 ($8.00-$8.18/€7.40-€7.57), I think,” he says, adding that these are prices delivered to Oslo.

SalmonBusiness gathers spot prices for salmon every Friday after lunch, tracking fish to be delivered the following week. This process involves contacting multiple entities in the value chain, including farmers, exporters, and importers. At least five independent sources are consulted, though they may not always be publicly disclosed.


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