The wholesale price of fresh Norwegian cod fillets has risen 20% in the past year, from £6.80/kg to £8.80/kg, on the back of soaring global demand for cod. Frozen cod fillets have also risen in price, from £3.65/kg to £3.75/kg [Intrastat/Norwegian Seafood Export Council].
Few of these price increases have been passed on to consumers to date, but suppliers are now pushing buyers to agree to higher retail prices or reduced pack weights to manage price inflation. "Cod prices are cyclical they were falling for the past two years but now they're on the rise again," said one seafood supplier. "Retail prices and pack weights are under pressure as processors look to pass on these increases and explore alternative species to cod, such as haddock."
There was also concern that, if unrecouped, rising cod prices might put the brakes on NPD, he added. "Suppliers aren't going to take risks in this climate."
There are already some examples of price increases and pack size reductions in the multiples. According to BrandView.co.uk, the price of cod loins in some of the mults has gone up by 79p, from £4.99 to £5.78, over the past 12 months, while the pack weight of some own-label battered cod fillets and breaded cod fillets has been reduced by 100g while the retail price has stayed the same. Most fresh and frozen cod products in the mults, however, have stayed the same or become less expensive.
Some suppliers have expressed concerns that rising global demand for cod could mean Norwegian boats filling up their cod quota more quickly than usual, potentially leading to shortfalls at the end of the year, but Johan Kvalheim of the Norwegian Seafood Export Council said there was no indication this would be the case.
"We have the same percentage of quota left this year as last year," he said.