Over­seas Ex­pan­sion: Per­spec­tives from a seafood in­dus­try trainee

Norway-Asia Business Review - - Contents -

“What the pro­gramme does it is helps Nor­we­gian seafood com­pa­nies ex­pand abroad and im­prove in­no­va­tion,” ex­plains Kristof­fer Remø . “In­no­va­tion is crit­i­cal for fur­ther growth of the Nor­we­gian seafood in­dus­try.”

The trainee pro­gram is or­gan­ised by In­no­va­tion Nor­way, the Nor­we­gian gov­ern­ment’s most im­por­tant in­stru­ment for in­no­va­tion and devel­op­ment of Nor­we­gian en­ter­prises and in­dus­try. The or­gan­i­sa­tion sup­ports com­pa­nies in de­vel­op­ing their com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage and to en­hance in­no­va­tion. Sup­port ar­eas in­clude building com­pet­i­tive Nor­we­gian en­ter­prises at both do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional mar­kets, pro­mot­ing Nor­we­gian en­ter­prises, pro­mot­ing Nor­way as an at­trac­tive tourist des­ti­na­tion, trans­form­ing ideas into suc­cess­ful busi­ness cases and pro­mote in­ter­ac­tion be­tween en­ter­prises, knowl­edge com­mu­ni­ties and R&D in­sti­tu­tions.

“I got an of­fice space at In­no­va­tion Nor­way’s Sin­ga­pore of­fice and they gave me guid­ance and helped me net­work,” says Kristof­fer Remø . “They have a large net­work in Sin­ga­pore so that is very help­ful for a new­comer like me. They help you get feed­back from the cus­tomers, and you can at­tend different fo­cus groups with chefs to help you un­der­stand their needs and the mar­ket bet­ter. In­no­va­tion Nor­way has been very help­ful with this. Torunn Aass Tar­al­rud, In­no­va­tion Nor­way’s Director in Sin­ga­pore and her team do an amaz­ing job, and I was lucky to get their help”

Kristof­fer Remø is the youngest son of a fam­ily with proud sea­far­ing tra­di­tion. For the past 30 years, the fam­ily has run Brødr. Remø, a seafood com­pany spe­cial­is­ing in value-added prod­ucts, pri­mar­ily smoked salmon and trout. The com­pany has re­ceived sev­eral awards for their prod­ucts, and cur­rently de­liv­ers seafood to cus­tomers all over the world. It is lo­cated in Åle­sund on the Nor­we­gian west coast, a re­gion fa­mous for its high qual­ity seafood prod­ucts due in large part to its lo­ca­tion on the At­lantic coast.

Home in Åle­sund, Kristof­fer Remø re­flects on the dif­fer­ences be­tween the Nor­we­gian and Sin­ga­porean mar­kets. “The dif­fer­ence be­tween Sin­ga­pore and Nor­way in terms of the cus­tomers is that the taste pref­er­ences are very different,” he says. For ex­am­ple, in Nor­way we love gravlaks or cured salmon, and that is not very pop­u­lar in Sin­ga­pore. Yet. We also use a lot more salt in Nor­way than we do in Asia. But we try to adapt to the mar­kets we are op­er­at­ing in. We are al­ways ea­ger to hear if cus­tomers have any new sug­ges­tions.”

Kristof­fer Remø be­lieves the seafood in­dus­try trainee pro­gramme has helped his fam­ily’s com­pany pen­e­trate the Sin­ga­porean mar­ket, and he was able to forge a new net­work, a new im­porter and a few new cus­tomers. Brødr. Remø also at­tended FoodAsia2016, one of Asia’s largest in­ter­na­tional food and drinks ex­hi­bi­tions. At­tract­ing thou­sands of ex­hibitors and vis­i­tors, FoodAsia2016 is a per­fect show­case for pro­duc­ers in the food and bev­er­age in­dus­try and ex­hib­ited prod­ucts in­clude every­thing from canned and frozen food to health and or­ganic food, meat and poul­try and seafood. “We gave out sam­ples and met with a lot of cus­tomers and got re­ally good feed­back,” says Kristof­fer Remø.

So far, the com­pany’s clients com­prise mostly ho­tels and restau­rants but Kristof­fer Remø is hun­gry for ex­pan­sion. “We are slowly ex­pand­ing into other South­east Asian coun­tries like Malaysia and Viet­nam,” he says.

Sin­ga­pore is a cen­tre for Nor­we­gian seafood ex­ports to the re­gion. The Nor­we­gian Seafood Coun­cil, a gov­ern­ment owned com­pany es­tab­lished in 1991 un­der the Min­istry of Trade, In­dus­try and Fish­eries to sup­port and drive growth of Nor­we­gian seafood ex­ports, recorded a 16 per­cent in­crease from 2014 to 2015 in the vol­ume of Nor­we­gian salmon be­ing ex­ported to the re­gion, now at 45,000 tonnes an­nu­ally, and a 20 per­cent in­crease in value, now at 2 bil­lion NOK. Yet the com­pe­ti­tion doesn’t de­ter Kristof­fer Remø. “There is a lot of com­pe­ti­tion but what we ex­pe­ri­ence is that it is still hard to get re­ally high qual­ity stuff in these mar­kets. The very high end is rel­a­tively un­ex­plored. Peo­ple have low ex­pec­ta­tion so to speak. So that is where we are con­cen­trat­ing our ef­forts. We’re still in the be­gin­ning, but we are grow­ing quickly.”

With a grow­ing busi­ness in South­east Asia, Kristof­fer is still un­de­cided about where he will live. “I like Sin­ga­pore and South­east Asia,” he says, “and Nor­way can get very cold, so let’s see.”

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