2016 was a record year for Nor­we­gian seafood ex­ports.

2016 was a record year for Nor­we­gian seafood ex­ports.

Norway-Asia Business Review - - Contents - SOFIE LISBY

Nor­we­gian seafood ex­ports reached a mile­stone in 2016. Sales went up 23 per­cent from 2015 and the value of seafood ex­ports passed NOK90 bil­lion for the first time, 70 per­cent of which came from farmed salmon and trout.

While the ma­jor­ity of ex­ports – some 67 per­cent – still goes to other parts of Europe, ex­ports to South­east Asia are grow­ing.

“In 2016 as a whole there was a 4 per­cent de­crease in vol­ume of salmon to EU, whereas Asia as the only growth re­gion had an in­crease of 3 per­cent, clearly demon­strat­ing how strong the Asian mar­ket is, and how much the con­sumers ap­pre­ci­ate high qual­ity salmon from Nor­way,” says Jon Erik Steenslid, re­gional di­rec­tor of the Nor­we­gian Seafood Coun­cil South­east Asia. “The main mar­kets for con­sump­tion of Nor­we­gian salmon in South­east Asia in 2016 was Sin­ga­pore, Thai­land and Malaysia. In Thai­land it is es­pe­cially worth notic­ing that the ex­port of fresh salmon in­creased by al­most 30 per­cent to 7,000 tons clearly demon­strat­ing in­creased con­sump­tion of Nor­we­gian salmon in Thai­land.”

The Nor­we­gian Seafood Coun­cil a gov­ern­ment owned com­pany es­tab­lished in 1991 un­der the Min­istry of Trade, In­dus­try and Fish­eries whose main ob­jec­tive it is to sup­port and drive growth of Nor­we­gian seafood ex­ports. The coun­cil is fi­nanced through an ex­port fee, which means the com­pa­nies ex­port­ing Nor­we­gian seafood pay a small per­cent­age of the ex­port value, rang­ing from 0.3 to 0.75 per­cent, which is then used by the NSC to in­crease the value of Nor­we­gian seafood re­sources. With 13 of­fices around the world, the coun­cil’s main ar­eas of re­spon­si­bil­ity are mar­ket in­sights, mar­ket devel­op­ment, mar­ket risk man­age­ment and rep­u­ta­tion risk man­age­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to Jon Erik Steenslid, 2016 was sig­nif­i­cant for Nor­we­gian seafood ex­ports for a num­ber of rea­sons. The year saw record high prices for salmon ex­ports as a re­sult of in­creased global de­mand com­bined with no growth in pro­duc­tion. “How­ever, the high salmon prices has had an ef­fect on de­mand, es­pe­cially in Europe, where ex­port vol­umes to some our key mar­kets are de­creas­ing,” he ex­plains. “In 2016 as a whole there was a 4 per­cent de­crease in vol­ume to EU.”

The main fo­cus of Nor­we­gian seafood in Asia is salmon. Other types of Nor­we­gian seafoods are be­ing ex­ported to the re­gion but the pop­u­lar fish ac­counts for the ma­jor­ity both in terms of vol­ume and value. “In all of the cap­i­tals of these coun­tries salmon has be­come the most sold fresh fish prod­uct,” ex­plains Jon Erik Steenslid.

What dis­tin­guishes Nor­we­gian salmon ex­ports is the dom­i­nat­ing position as the world’s largest pro­ducer of salmon and the fact that the fish is ex­ported fresh and not frozen as is the case with salmon from other coun­tries. Im­port­ing fresh salmon is im­por­tant in a re­gion where food safety is be­com­ing an in­creas­ingly de­bated topic. “Food safety is quite a big is­sue through­out Asia and through our ex­ten­sive mar­ket re­search, we know that con­sumers in this re­gion see Nor­way as a clean coun­try and a re­li­able coun­try with high qual­ity prod­ucts.” says Jon Erik Steenslid. “We mar­ket the ori­gin of the seafood first of all so we work with restau­rants and su­per­mar­kets to de­velop what we call point of sales ma­te­ri­als high­light­ing the Nor­we­gian ori­gin. We want con­sumers to know where the fish is com­ing from, we want them to now it is fresh and that is has been air flown

into the mar­ket in or­der to give them con­fi­dence in the prod­uct.”

Pro­mot­ing Nor­way as the coun­try of ori­gin is more than just branding. The coun­try has a long his­tory of aqua­cul­ture with un­par­al­leled ex­per­tise. The in­dus­try is reg­u­lated by what is by many con­sid­ered the world’s strictest reg­u­la­tory frame­work, which en­sures con­sis­tently high qual­ity and food safety. A com­pre­hen­sive track­ing sys­tem means all Nor­we­gian salmon is trace­able from the mo­ment it hatches from the egg and all the way to the mar­ket­place around the world.

Con­sumers are also be­com­ing in­creas­ingly ed­u­cated, Jon Erik Steenslid notes. “Con­sumers are be­com­ing more ed­u­cated about the health ben­e­fits of salmon, and they also ap­pre­ci­ate it for its fresh­ness and food safety, par­tic­u­larly for raw con­sump­tion such as sushi and sashimi,” he ex­plains. “The sushi trend is still grow­ing as con­sumers are seek­ing a more healthy and trendy diet. This is also adding to the fact that con­sumers are be­com­ing more de­mand­ing and qual­ity con­scious, ex­pect­ing to be served high qual­ity prod­ucts and are will­ing to pay for it.”

While there are strong trends and sim­i­lar­i­ties in South­east Asia, re­gional dif­fer­ences ex­ist as well in terms of food cul­ture. While Sin­ga­pore is one of the coun­tries in South­east Asia with the high­est con­sump­tion of fresh salmon, coun­tries like In­done­sia and Malaysia have lower con­sump­tion, which Jon Erik Steenslid at­tributes to cultural fac­tors. Ex­ports to Thai­land have seen sig­nif­i­cant growth in re­cent years, in­creas­ing by 83 per­cent from 2014 to 2015 and by 30 per­cent from 2015 to 2016. While Thai­land has his­tor­i­cally im­ported mainly frozen salmon which is then re­pro­cessed and ex­ported to other mar­kets, the coun­try is in­creas­ingly im­port­ing fresh salmon, ac­cord­ing to Jon Erik Steenslid.

He is very con­fi­dent about the fu­ture of Nor­we­gian salmon in the re­gion. “I think Nor­we­gian salmon has a bright fu­ture in South­east Asia,” he says. “2016 clearly showed how im­por­tant and strong the main mar­kets in this area is, pro­duc­ing yet an­other record break­ing year when many tra­di­tional salmon mar­kets strug­gled. With a grow­ing in­crease in pop­u­la­tion and pur­chase power, com­bined with love for high qual­ity seafood and will­ing­ness to pay for it, I am con­vinced that South­east Asia will con­tinue to strengthen its position as one of the most im­por­tant mar­ket re­gions for Nor­we­gian salmon.”

PHOTO: NOR­WE­GIAN SEAFOOD COUN­CIL/JO­HAN WILDHAGEN

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