Herring Roe Saves the Day

Demand for herring roe raise first sales prices

Currently, an increasing price level and volume is observed for Atlantic herring, which is unusual considering the difficult market conditions for Atlantic herring in previous years.

The explanation for the increased first sale price of herring is found by looking at capelin, a fish in the smelt family. Caplin roe, commonly known as masago, is often dyed bright orange, red or green to add visual interest to various dishes, for example in sushi rolls. In 2019 and 2020, no capelin quotas were issued in Iceland in order to protect the stocks. With less caplin roe available, Asia looked to herring roe as a substitute.

In 2020, 5.800 tonnes of herring roe  was exported from Norway, an increase of 50% compared to 2019. Exports to the three largest markets South Korea, Kazakhstan, and Japan increased by 66%, 40%, and 117% respectively, accounting together for 51% of total exports in 2020. The weighted average export price in 2020 was 73,88 NOK/kg, 75% higher than 2019!  

Some capelin roe is expected to reach the consumption market in 2021 as the Icelandic authorities have allocated a capelin quota of 127.000 tonnes in Icelandic waters this year. The first herring season is now levelling off and we expect first sale prices to drop once the herring roe season is over.

Want to learn more about the market for herring and other pelagic fish? Check out our Monthly Pelagic Report.


Image: Shutterstock by mnimage