Icelandic Horse Export Increased By 53% Last Year Skip to content
Icelandic horse
Photo: Golli.

Icelandic Horse Export Increased By 53% Last Year

In 2020, 2,320 Icelandic horses were exported from Iceland, an increase of 53% from the previous year. The biggest export markets are Germany, Sweden, and Denmark, but demand from the USA and the UK is growing. According to statistics Iceland, the combined export value of horses from Iceland in 2020 was over 1.5 billion ISK ($11,717,000, €9,644,000), up half a billion ($4,000,000, €2,800,000) from 2019.

Export increased to all of Iceland’s major export markets last year. While Germany is still the largest export market for Icelandic horses, export to the US grew by 176 % and export to the UK and Switzerland close to doubled. Germany imported the most horses, (974), far ahead of Sweden (306) and Denmark (271). The US is in fourth place with 141 horses but interest in the Icelandic horse is growing, as only 51 horses were exported to the US in the previous year. Export to Switzerland also grew by 42% and the number of horses exported to Belgium tripled in the past year. There were also some new markets last year, with three Icelandic horses exported to Latvia for the first time.

The reason for the growth in export likely thanks to the devaluation of the Icelandic króna, at least in part, and the marketing efforts of Horses of Iceland. Director of Icelandair Cargo’s export division Mikael Tal Grétarsson also told Bændablaðið last year that he believed the pandemic played a part. The devaluation of the Icelandic króna means that prices are affordable but people are also unable to travel and likely to spend their vacation funds on their hobbies at home instead. He also stated that the growth in export was causing some difficulties as Icelandair Cargo only had a limited amount of horse-safe containers for shipping the animals and that they were acquiring new containers to respond to demand. In January, horse export to Belgium was temporarily halted when some horses got injured at the Liège airport due to human error. The matter was quickly resolved and export resumed a few weeks later, following updated import regulations.

While horse export is a growing market, horse import is forbidden in Iceland and has been for centuries. As a result, the only horse breed in Iceland is the small but tough Icelandic horse.

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