The entire value chain of the salmon industry is experiencing the consequences of the corona virus. Iceland, which have salmon farming sites in remote areas, can also face challenges in the long run.
“Almost no fresh white fish is leaving Iceland right now, and almost all fish are frozen. Export of frozen fish goes well. The challenge is what happens to the markets for fresh fish. Iceland exported fresh fish for NOK 6 billion last year, and this market is now facing a major challenge and it is uncertain what this will mean for the seafood industry in Iceland,” says specialist adviser at INAQ consultancy Fridrik Sigurdsson to SalmonBusiness.
Fridrik Sigurdsson estimates that the transportation capacity with passenger flights out of the country is down by 75-90 % as many employees among Icelandair has been laid off.
In addition to reduced shipping capacity, Sigurdsson says that some customers in the continent are not buying fresh fish today.
“However, at the moment things are going well,” he adds.
“Will need funds”
Being remotely located the Icelandic seafood industry is at the moment freezing down all white fish, according to Fisheries Iceland. The fish is being frozen to sell to the market, especially US, later on.
When it comes to salmon, it is primarily fish that go to China and the United States that are affected by the corona situation. Fish to Rotterdam, the United Kingdom and Denmark are currently transported almost as normal.
According to Sigurdsson, the country has the capacity to freeze salmon and white fish. This is because fishing for capelin and the production of capelin eggs have decreased in recent years, which in turn allows for increased storage capacity for salmon and white fish.
“For a young industry such as the salmon industry in Iceland it will need funds to make it through this period if it goes on much longer,” says Fridrik Sigurdsson.
Arnarlax experiencing the decrease
At Arnarlax they are not experiencing difficulties in delivering enough salmon to the European and UK market, and does nor use Icelandair very much for delivering salmon to the Chinese and American market.
“Most of our salmon is going fresh into the market, but some is frozen. This is a natural way to adapt to a market with low demand,” writes Björn Hembre, CEO of Arnarlax in an email to SalmonBusiness.
Björn Hembre has not wished to comment on how much salmon is being frozen down during the corona crisis compared to before. But the company is also experiencing the less demand in the market as restaurants and hotels all over Europe are closed.
Arnarlax has provided volume guidance of 10,000 MT harvest volume in 2020.
The salmon industry in Iceland is still very small, as it produced 27,000 MT in 2019.