COVID-19 impacts cod supply chain in the EU

The significant decrease in demand for cod can be attributed to COVID-19 as the restaurant and catering sector is severly affected by the lockdown.

A large share of the cod landed or imported as fresh is normally sold in the HORECA (Hotels, Restaurants, and Catering) segment. With the COVID-19 lockdown, this market segment virtually disappeared and overall demand fell sharply. While fresh cod of Norwegian origin traditionally goes into the retail and HoReCa segments, closure of restaurants, hotels and canteens led to a significant change in demand on the EU market.

After COVID-19  began to influence the consumption patterns throughout Europe in March, the EU imports of fresh cod from Norway dropped. The lower volumes entering the EU from Norway during the weeks of March and beginning of April is a result of the changed channels for consumption, but also because of somewhat less caught cod in Norway during this period.

In 12 of the first 13 weeks of 2020, import prices for fresh cod from Norway trended above last year’s level. Since week 14, the import price has sunk below the prices seen in 2019. The price level for fresh cod in the EU was maintained in the early phase of the pandemic due to still stable demand from sales channels such as retail and from the EU processing industry. In addition, the limited volumes caught by Norwegian vessels in this period increased the competition for available products. After the fluctuating supply and demand in March and April,  prices have stabilized at a lower level compared to last year.

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Image: Grigorev Mikhail via