11/01/2021 by Jan Erik Øksenvåg
Latest development in salmon prices
High harvest activity and COVID-19 is impacting market prices for farmed Atlantic salmon.
On the supply side, harvest of farmed Atlantic salmon in Europe ended record high in December mainly due to a 24% year-over-year increase in salmon harvest in Norway. In Norway, the high harvest volume in December is a result of favourable growth conditions and strong growth over the past few months. In addition, some salmon farming companies have kept their packing and processing facilities operational during the Christmas holiday season in order to avoid COVID-19 implications/closedowns (travel restrictions, forced quarantine and potential COVID-19 infections for foreign workers).
On the market side, COVID-19 continues to impact the demand. As many large salmon markets in Europe have imposed stricter COVID-19 restrictions in the last weeks of December – restrictions which will last for 3-4 weeks at a minimum – distribution and sales of salmon is for the most part focused on large scale retailers while the HoReCa segment (with some exceptions) is virtually closed.
With this backdrop, spot prices for farmed Atlantic salmon have been low through December and prices started low in the first week of January. Based on weekly trade statistics from Norway, export of fresh whole salmon to the main European processing countries was high in the last 2 weeks of December. Short term stocking may have mitigated the immediate need for purchasing large quantities of salmon in the beginning of 2021. In a short-term perspective, there are a limited number of bright spots on the demand side on the EU market. The need to keep harvest activity at a relative high level is present in the weeks to come.
In addition to the above factors, Brexit has caused some uncertainties and delays in deliveries to and from the UK in the first days of 2021 as new trading procedures have not been fully in place.
While salmon prices on the EU market are under pressure, prices on the US market showed an upward trend over the last weeks of December. Prices for fresh whole salmon in the West coast market have trended steeply up the last couple of weeks, while spot prices for fresh Chilean fillets delivered in Miami have shown a gradual recovery since prices hit the bottom medio November 2020. In the last 2 weeks of December 2020, prices for fresh Chilean fillets rose to a pre-COVID-19 level.
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