Editor's note: an earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the price levels for the coming week. The corrected price figures are below.

The coronavirus outbreak has shaken up the global seafood market, but for the salmon sector, a steep decline in prices is more to do with a market correction and high volumes of unsold fish, executives told IntraFish.

"The fact that prices are falling is something we have been waiting a long time for," one exporter told IntraFish.

"Levels in excess of NOK 70 ($7.56/€6.84) a kilo are not normal."

The sharp decline in prices is most noticeable for larger fish over 6 kilos, the exporter said, which typically head to Asia.

It goes without saying that it is extremely difficult in China now that the New Year celebration has been completed and that the whole country and its transport there is severely paralyzed by the coronavirus," he said. "There is a full stop there, says the exporter."

Corona an impact, but not the only impact

While the price drop is to some extent due to the corona virus, traders and farmers warned to not exaggerate the impact.

"We have had similar price drops around this time for many years in the past, too, without any virus. This year, prices of more than NOK 70 ($7.56/€6.84) per kilo were set against February, which is unusually high. It goes without saying that it could not last," said another exporter.

One farmer said "at least 80 percent of the price drop" is because the level was simply too high in the first place.

"There are many who have all sorts of quirky explanations for why prices are falling and rising. Not everything can always be explained logically," he said.

The farmer said that despite price drops of up to NOK 10/kg ($1.08/€0.97) for the largest fish, the level is at a comfortable level for the sellers.

A fourth exporter said he believes the market is simply moving back to normal price levels, noting that prices above NOK 60/kg are still high.

"Don't ask why prices are falling today, but rather why they haven't fallen in the past," he said.

IntraFish was given the following prices for fresh salmon with next week's delivery:

  • 3–4 kg - NOK 60–63 ($6.49/€5.86-$6.80/€6.16)/ kg
  • 4–5 kg - NOK 62–64 ($6.69/€6.06-$6.91/€6.26)/ kg
  • 5–6 kg - NOK 63–65 ($6.80/€6.16-$7.02/€6.35)/ kg
  • 6+ kg - NOK 63-65 ($6.80/€6.16-$7.02/€6.35)/ kg