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Expect high Atlantic cod prices in 2019, analyst says

With buyers already paying dearly for their supplies, it's unclear exactly how much of a rise the market will bear, however.

A decline in supply typically means a rise in price, so the reduction in the Barents Sea cod quota would indicate more expensive fish. But with cod prices at record levels, it's unclear how the formula will play out, one analyst said.

Russian and Norwegian regulators on Thursday agreed to a 2019 quota for the Barents Sea of 725,000 metric tons, a decline of 50,000 metric tons compared to this season.

Nordea Analyst Finn-Arne Egeness told IntraFish Media's Fiskeribladet that the industry can expect high cod prices in 2019, but given prices today, he's not expecting any major shift, and is putting more focus on where the Euro/NOK exchange rate is headed.

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Egeness notes that exports of cod have increased to record revenue levels, indicating strong global demand.

It's likely that the smaller quota will lead to more processing of products in Norway to extract more value from the lower harvest.

"We probably will see the biggest decline in frozen H&G to Asia for double-frozen production," Egeness said. "Low prices are the most important criteria for purchasing in that sector."

In addition, the price increase in the markets for frozen cod fillets may lead to consumers choosing cheaper alternatives such as Alaska pollock, Egeness noted, further softening H&G demand.

All eyes on the buyers

Another major market influencer will be EU retail decisions, Egeness noted.

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It's unclear whether or not Portuguese chains, for example, will stock significant volumes of cod at higher prices.

"Similarly, the volumes through French, German and UK grocery stores will play a crucial role in the picture," Egeness said. "For example, in France, high salmon prices will be positive for the price of cod."

Egeness said he expects the deep-sea cod fleet to continue to earn high numbers for its catch of around NOK 30 (€3.65/$3.17) per kilo.

When the new fishing season begins early next year and fresh volumes hit the market, Egeness says cod sellers could fetch between NOK 28 (€3.40/$2.96) - NOK 29 (€3.53/$3.07) during the high months of February and March.

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