Despite a challenging year of COVID-19 pandemic causing the world to stand still, Norwegian Seafood Council reported a 2 per cent increase in volume for a total of 2.7 million tonnes of Norwegian seafood exports worldwide, worth THB 377 billion (NOK 105.7 billion), the second-highest value ever and only a -1 per cent decrease compared to 2019. While for Thailand, a -1 per cent decline for volume of fresh salmonids imported to Thailand in 2020, totaling 16,771 tonnes, worth THB 3.65 billion.
Asbjørn Warvik Rørtveit, Southeast Asia Regional Director, Norwegian Seafood Council (NSC), revealed that, «The Norwegian seafood industry has managed to defy the biggest challenges amid uncertainties and instabilities happening around the world. We have been able to maintain a strong position in the Thai market by working closely with our business partners to adapt and come up with new product offerings that are relevant to the demands of Thai consumers. Norwegian Salmon remains Thai people’s favourite along with a new trend with a shift towards more home-cooking and delivery.
Total performance in Thai market in 2020 including both fresh and frozen products for the species is slightly down: Salmon 14,083 tonnes (-10 per cent), Fjord Trout 4,903 tonnes (-12 per cent), Mackerel 8,873 tonnes (-1 per cent) compared to 2019 – a small decline considering a challenging economic landscape caused by COVID-19. Globally, in 2020, the total volume of Norwegian seafood exports is 2.7 million tonnes, a 2 per cent increase, worth THB 377 billion (NOK 105.7 billion), equivalent to 37 million meals daily or 25,000 meals per minute.
Although the seafood trends have shifted from what was foreseen in early 2020, the new normal measures have paved ways for Norwegian seafood to thrive during the pandemic. With the lockdown resulted in loss of important sales channel in restaurants and hotels and logistics becoming more complicated, sales of Norwegian Salmon and other seafoods were largely moved to grocery chains, delivery and takeaway services.
Five important factors have contributed to the success of Norwegian seafood industry in a year that is considered strenuous for others:
- A weakened Norwegian krone
- An adaptable seafood industry
- Individual species such as mackerel and herring have experienced strong growth
- The export value for Salmon is the second highest ever
- Norwegian seafood is a highly sought-after global commodity
“The pandemic has shaped new trends among Thai consumers where products with trusted source and high standard of hygiene are sought after. Throughout the year, the Norwegian Seafood Council has addressed food-related concerns and ensured that Norwegian seafood products including fresh Salmon are safe to eat while strictly following advices from The World Health Organisation (WHO). The Norwegian Seafood Council has also been keeping a close dialogue with the industry including The Norwegian Food Safety Authority and The Institute of Marine Research to provide reliable data and assessment for our retail partners and Thai consumers,” Asbjørn reassured.
Throughout 2020, Norwegian Seafood Council has hosted a number of activities in Thai market with the objective to educate the public about Norwegian seafood and establish a solid relationship with Thai counterparts. Noteable events are Seafood Under the Stars where new seafood products were introduced; Norwegian Seafood Seminar in connection with THAIFEX – Anuga Asia 2020 addressing key issues and way forward related to seafood industry in Thailand; partnership through Line Man x Wongnai campaign promoting Seafood From Norway with 7 leading Japanese and seafood restaurants; and Fjord Trout campaign with a key influencer, Bon Jakobsen sharing educational story about Fjord Trout from Norway.
«In 2021, the Norwegian seafood industry is committed to continue providing safe, sustainable, and nutritious seafood for Thai consumers. A time like this calls for an increased focus on value-based choices related to health and sustainability. Thailand is a highly trendy and adaptive market in which consumers are open for new ideas and products. We plan to release digital marketing campaigns and strengthen our partnerships with retailers to help uplift local food businesses and stimulate spendings in Thailand’s food industry,» Asbjørn concluded.