Norway-based Austevoll Seafood posted significantly higher earnings in the first quarter of 2022 as it benefitted from the meteoric rise in salmon and trout prices over the period.

During the first three months, the seafood giant saw its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) increase by a third to reach NOK 1.4 billion (€141.1 million/$146.8 million), a direct result of the strong price development in the group’s Atlantic salmon and trout segment.

Austevoll -- whose expansive footprint includes salmon farming and whitefish giant Leroy Seafood Group, South American fishmeal producers Austral Group and Foodcorp, and the jointly held North Atlantic pelagic giant Pelagia -- increased group operating revenue in the quarter 10 percent to just over NOK 6.5 billion (€641.5 million/$667.6 million).

The first quarter saw a strong development in seafood prices, including salmon and trout.

"This boosted earnings from this segment and is the main factor behind the significantly higher earnings in the quarter," Austevoll said.

EBIT before fair value adjustment related to biological assets was up 42 percent at over NOK 1 billion (€97.9 million/$101.9 million) in the quarter.

Income from associates -- which include Norskott Havbruk and Pelagia Holding -- also surged 72 percent in the quarter, to NOK 129 million (€12.6 million/$13.1 million).

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Salmon drives the numbers

Austevoll’s bumper earnings were largely driven by Leroy Seafood Group, which has its hand both in the salmonid aquaculture industry and the wild-harvest whitefish sector.

Leroy posted a 54 percent increase in EBITDA to NOK 1.2 billion (€114.6 million/$119.3 million), with revenue rising 12 percent to over NOK 5.5 billion (€539.8 million/$561.7 million).

Farmed salmon and trout harvests fell 24 percent for the company to 32,057 metric tons presenting an almost tripling in EBIT per kilo to NOK 20 (€2/$2).

In Peru, Austevoll’s Austral Group, which is involved in fishing, the production of fishmeal and fish oil, and consumer products, experienced a “seasonally low level of activity” in the first quarter.

Operating revenue dipped 7 percent to NOK 653 million (€63.8 million/$66.4 million) and EBITDA plunged 42 percent to as a result.

Foodcorp Chile -- also involved in fisheries, production of consumer products and production of fishmeal and fish oil -- conversely, had a seasonally high level of activity and saw its operating revenue increase 20 percent to NOK 189 million (€18.5 million/$19.2 million) with EBITDA also climbing 27 percent to NOK 84 million (€8.2 million/$8.5 million).

Meanwhile, revenue for Austevoll’s 50/50 joint venture, Pelagia Holding, amounted to NOK 2.2 billion (€216.8 million/$225.6 million) – down 5 percent on a year earlier – but EBITDA climbed almost 40 percent NOK 184 million (€18 million/$18.7 million).

Pelagia’s sales volume for frozen products in the quarter was 84,400 metric tons, down 11 percent from the same quarter in 2021.

Sales of fishmeal and fish oil in the quarter, however, totaled 59,000 metric tons, up 30 percent.

Pelagia has operations in Ukraine and in 2021, sales to the country totaled NOK 85 million (€8.3 million/$8.6 million), less than 1 percent of the company's revenue for the year.

At the end of the quarter, the company had not recorded any significant loss due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, it said.