Prices plummet: “It’s been a brutal week. We’ve lost a huge amount, and others have lost even more”

by
Aslak Berge

This week the salmon market screeched to an abrupt halt after what had seemed a promising start to the year.

Producer, exporters, and importers have all been hit hard by a brutal drop in salmon prices, which have fallen between NOK 20 and 30 per kilo (€1.78-€2.67/$1.94-$2.91) this week.

“Those left with fish have faced the largest price drop on record, but it’s also true that prices have never been this high before. Some trades went as low as the 80s,” one exporter told SalmonBusiness, noting that some transactions had reached NOK 130-140 (€11.57-€12.46/$12.61-$13.58) for the largest fish.

The focus now shifts to clearing the market of unsold fish.

The market’s unpredictability has made it challenging to set prices. “It’s been an extremely tough week. Pinpointing the price level for all types of fish post-New Year is going to take time,” according to one industry insider.

The situation is particularly challenging for lighter weight classes, where a glut of smaller fish has compounded the problem.

“A brutal week. We have lost a huge amount and others have lost even more,” another exporter told SalmonBusiness from Tromso.

He expressed no urgency in purchasing next week’s fish for harvest citing the abundance of unsold fish.

The quoted prices for this week’s fish were:

NOK 81-82 (€7.19-€7.30/$7.86-$7.95) for 3-4 kg,

NOK 83-85 (€7.40-€7.57/$8.05-$8.24) for 4-5 kg

NOK 88-90 (€7.84-€8.01/$8.53-$8.73) for 5-6 kg.

Next week’s harvest price remains undecided.

“Fish from earlier in the week are still unsold. The demand isn’t there, leading to smaller contracts and a surplus in the spot market. It’s the pricing that’s halting everything – it’s just too expensive,” a third exporter observed.

The industry is currently undergoing a price correction, with one farmer noting some improvement in the market. “The situation has started to correct itself,” he commented.

Prices for different sizes vary, with 2-3 kg fish selling for NOK 78-79 (€6.95-€7.03/$7.56-$7.65), 3-4 kg at NOK 91-92 (€8.09-€8.18/$8.85-$8.92), and 4-5 kg around 100 (€8.89/$9.70). The 5-6 kg category is estimated at NOK 105-110 (€9.34-€9.79/$10.19-$10.67), and the 6+ kg category, is priced higher. However, even this category has seen a drop of 20-30 kroner.

The exporter emphasized, “There’s a ceiling to the price in the market, and no one is willing to buy at current rates. It’s been a tremendously challenging week, the likes of which I haven’t experienced before.”

One producer shared a slightly more optimistic view, noting some signs of a recovery. “The correction is happening. We managed to sell early, but now we’re being cautious,” he said, adding that the smallest fish category faces the biggest challenges in pricing.

SalmonBusiness routinely 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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