Thoughts on the 2021 cod season

COVID-19 may cause downward price pressure

The main cod season in Norway lasts from January to April when the Northeast Artic spawning cod (Skrei) migrates to Lofoten and Vesterålen on the north-east Norwegian coast. The weekly landed volumes of cod in Norway are starting to increase with 18.000 tonnes cod landed during this year’s three first weeks. However, prices have started off at a significant lower level compared to the same weeks last year.

How the peak landing season for cod in Norway will proceed this year depends on several factors, mainly related to COVID-19 which currently lingers as a potential contributor to downward price-pressure. COVID-19 has reduced demand for cod throughout the HoReCa segment and the demand will likely continue at a reduced level in the months ahead. Further downward price pressure may occur from a potential supply increase, driven by a 23% increase in the Barents Sea Atlantic cod quota.

In addition, COVID-19 restrictions on the entry of foreign workforce in Norway has been implemented, spreading fear amongst fishers and processors of being short staffed during the peak season. Without a strong workforce onshore, cod plants may be unable to receive and process the available volumes in the peak-weeks. With the entry ban lasting for another week and a 10-day mandatory quarantine for foreign workers, the start of the cod-season will have to go on with lower capacity than usual.

Landings and export statistics suggest a slight increase in inventory of cod in Norway. This may add to uncertainty about the general market outlook among buyers and could affect their purchasing plans.

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Image: Shutterstock, ANADMAN BVBA