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Asda switches from Icelandic to Norwegian cod

UK-based Young's seafood has many new cod-based lines -- could that be one reason?

UK-based discount retailer Asda has decided to use Norwegian cod and haddock rather than cod and haddock from Iceland.

"We see more people wanting to switch to Norwegian fish and can confirm that Asda chooses Norwegian fish," Hans Frode Kielland Asmyhr, UK director for the Norwegian Seafood Council (NSC), told IntraFish sister publication Fiskeribladet.

The United Kingdom is the fourth largest market for Norwegian seafood exports.

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The export value of the fish jumped over 72 percent to NOK 175.8 million (€18.1 million/$20.3 million) in the first half of this year following the higher demand from the United Kingdom.

Haddock exports decreased 16 percent in volume, however, surged 15 percent in price because of less supply related to quota cuts, Asmyhr said.

The sales values of cod and haddock combined increased 10 percent during the first half of 2019 to NOK 613 million (€63.2 million/$70.8 million) compared with the same period last year.

Demand for raw materials has climbed after quotas for cod and haddock declined, which has lead to higher prices and there is generally good demand for the species in the United Kingdom, Asmyhr said.

What's Brexit got to do with it?

During the first three months of the year, many UK-based importers were focused on securing raw material in connection to the uncertainty around Brexit.

"There is also a good market for whitefish in the United Kingdom currently from both grocers and fish and chips shops," Asmyhr said.

Young's could be one importer

Norwegian frozen-at-sea producer Normarine exports 25 percent of its annual frozen fish production to the United Kingdom.

The company has been supplying UK-based frozen seafood giant Young's Seafood for over 12 years. Young's has a wide range of cod-based products.

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"The large increase in frozen whole fish exports is mainly due to Asda going from Icelandic fish to Norwegian-caught fish," Normarine's Bjorn Fladmark told Fiskeribladet. "There is a constant war between supermarket chains and they will jump back and forth."

Normarine also supplies to Marks and Spencer.

However, some exporters do not notice a big increase in long-term Norwegian-caught whitefish contracts.

"The price varies and has a connection with currency among other things" Leinebo-owned Phl Seagold Sales Manager Daniel Harbo Pinheiro told Fiskeribladet.

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