From Intrafish 22 February – Strong Icelandic cod production and weak demand from the catering sector have combined to depress Icelandic cod prices, while suppliers believe that growth in new markets and retail sales, may help the sector recover.
The average price of ungutted Icelandic fresh cod at auction from the start of the year to 15 February was €2.08 per kilo and €2.17 per kilo for gutted cod, down 17 per cent and 26 per cent respectively from the average price in 2020.
The Marine Data Centre said that the fishing company had already achieved 50 per cent of its total quota of 254,273 tonnes, with the usual season running from 1 September to 31 August each year.
Iceland’s exports of whole fish increased by 60 per cent in 2020, exports of frozen fish blocks at sea increased by 54 per cent, exports to the Netherlands increased by 150 per cent, while exports to Denmark increased fourfold.
According to Statistics Iceland, the total amount of cod caught in Iceland in January was 22,853 tonnes, a 30 per cent increase on the same month in 2020. Although the food service sector is holding down prices, Icelandic vessels are struggling to catch their total quota and currently have “plenty of product” available.
Heida Kristin Helgadottir, CEO of Icelandic cod supplier Niceland Seafood, said that sales in the foodservice market remain sluggish and that there is a lot of pressure to keep prices low due to the unstable foodservice operating environment. While there is no clear timeline for a recovery in the F&B sector, sales in the retail sector are strong.
Gunnar Orlygsson, CEO of Icelandic whitefish supplier IceMar, said that with large catches of cod, the market will see supply outstrip demand and there may be a weak market in the near future, but he was optimistic about the prospects for Atlantic cod in some markets, particularly northern and central Europe and the USA.
Experts from the Groundfish Forum predict that Pacific cod catches are expected to continue to decline in 2021, after concerns over biomass led regulators to reduce the total allowable catch quota over the past few years. The US regulator has set the 2020 cod quota for the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands at 155,595 tonnes.
Experts noted that Russia is increasing local consumption of Atlantic cod and that the Asian market is also growing. The decline in food service is not all bad, forcing the cod industry to look for new opportunities and markets, with consumers cooking at home consuming more for seafood consumption and prompting more interaction between the industry and consumers.
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