From the clear, cold wa­ters of Nor­way

Norway-Asia Business Review - - Contents - text by Eric Baker

Nor­we­gian seafood en­joys an en­vi­able mar­ket po­si­tion in Thai­land. This didn’t come about by ac­ci­dent, so the Busi­ness Re­view de­cided to in­ter­view Chris­tian Chramer, the Nor­we­gian Seafood Coun­cil’s re­gional di­rec­tor for South­east Asia. The coun­cil rep­re­sents all the coun­try’s seafood ex­porters, who ship to over 100 dif­fer­ent coun­tries. Was it hard to brand Nor­we­gian seafood in the be­gin­ning? Did you have to ed­u­cate con­sumers and sup­pli­ers about why Nor­we­gian seafood is a pre­mium prod­uct? CC: Nor­we­gian Seafood is not new in Thai­land or Asia, but our mar­ket­ing ac­tiv­ity has been very limited over the last few years. I would say that af­ter the first six month of op­er­a­tions in Thai­land the mar­ket seems quite ready for more mar­ket­ing ac­tiv­ity, and re­tail­ers, ho­tels and restaurants are very open to more mar­ket­ing of Nor­we­gian sal­mon. Nor­we­gian sal­mon en­joys a very good po­si­tion in the mar­ket, with lots of long-term re­la­tions both to pro­fes­sion­als and con­sumers. The story of sal­mon from the cold, clear wa­ters of Nor­way seems to be well known. Still, the com­pe­ti­tion is stiff so the Nor­we­gian Seafood Coun­cil that works on be­half of seafood pro­duc­ers and ex­porters in Nor­way must step up to main­tain and strengthen their role as mar­ket leader in Thai­land. I no­tice that in some high-end eater­ies they men­tion Nor­we­gian sal­mon by name on the menu or at the buf­fet ta­ble. How long from the start of the mar­ket­ing process does it typ­i­cally take for an eatery to start men­tion­ing the ori­gin or brand of your seafood? Of course, it is in the best in­ter­est of the ven­dor to men­tion it, but there are sev­eral im­ported foods in Bangkok where the ori­gin is not specif­i­cally listed. CC: The brand­ing of sal­mon as Nor­we­gian is of­ten done on the restau­rant’s own ini­tia­tive and not nec­es­sar­ily as a re­sult of our work. Both pro­fes­sion­als and con­sumers have a high re­gards for Nor­we­gian sal­mon, and iden­ti­fy­ing it as so can of­ten com­mand a higher price. For our read­ers who haven’t eaten any be­fore, what specif­i­cally makes Nor­we­gian seafood “the best in the world”? CC: Nor­we­gian sal­mon farm­ers were the ones who started the revo­lu­tion of sal­mon farm­ing some 40 years ago in the fjords of Nor­way. The in­no­va­tive, cut­ting-edge tech­nol­ogy used to­day has been de­vel­oped over these years and gives Nor­way its leading role in sal­mon pro­duc­tion. Nor­way is a leader both in vol­ume and global dis­tri­bu­tion, as our sal­mon is sold to more than 100 coun­tries. To give the short­est pos­si­ble an­swer as to why we are the best: Our global leading tech­nol­ogy brings a high qual­ity prod­uct, from the small fry to the full-sized sal­mon raised in cold, clear wa­ters. As well, Nor­way’s ge­o­graphic po­si­tion, ef­fi­cient pro­duc­tion and ad­vanced lo­gis­tics so­lu­tions al­low us to reach mar­kets as far away as Ja­pan within 36 hours from har­vest­ing. This com­bined with skilled work­ers, sal­mon farm­ers, world-leading stan­dards and gov­ern­men­tal con­trol and reg­u­la­tions makes our sal­mon prob­a­bly the best in the world. For sev­eral ven­dors, there needs to be some type of mix be­tween qual­ity and price. What can you tell po­ten­tial clients about why they should splurge for Nor­we­gian seafood? CC: This is quite sim­ple: Nor­we­gian sal­mon is avail­able fresh 365 days of the year. High vol­umes (1.2 mil­lion tonnes last year) se­cure sta­ble de­liv­er­ies of high-qual­ity Nor­we­gian sal­mon. I no­tice that sus­tain­abil­ity is a part of your mar­ket­ing ap­proach. Do Thai or South­east Asian buy­ers care about sus­tain­abil­ity yet or is the mar­ket not ma­ture enough? Do you check that your mem­bers are us­ing sus­tain­able prac­tices? CC: We see sus­tain­abil­ity as a ma­jor part of our op­er­a­tions in Nor­way and the in­dus­try as a whole, both the govern­ment and in­di­vid­ual pro­duc­ers, put a lot of ef­fort into this area. The mar­ket de­mand for eco-so­lu­tions is still not at a high level, but we ex­pect that these is­sues will be more im­por­tant for both pro­fes­sion­als and con­sumers in the fu­ture and aim to be ready with in­for­ma­tion, high stan­dards and doc­u­men­ta­tion when the ques­tions are raised.

“Nor­way’s ge­o­graphic po­si­tion, ef­fi­cient pro­duc­tion and ad­vanced lo­gis­tics so­lu­tions al­low us to reach mar­kets as far away as Ja­pan within 36 hours from har­vest­ing.”

How much do the health ben­e­fits of seafood play into your mar­ket­ing strat­egy? CC: In our mar­ket­ing we talk more about the fresh­ness, taste and joy of eat­ing seafood than Omega-3 fatty acids and nu­tri­tion. Still, we know from our re­search that con­sumers, es­pe­cially those in Asia, are quite aware of the pos­i­tive as­pects of eat­ing sal­mon and other seafood. Health com­mu­ni­ca­tion is there­fore of­ten a part of our to­tal mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion, but more as sup­port­ing ma­te­rial for con­sumers seek­ing more in­for­ma­tion and recipes. Thai­land is well-known for much of its lo­cally pro­duced seafood. Does that make it harder or eas­ier to con­vince a mar­ket­place to open up to your prod­ucts? CC: High seafood con­sump­tion is more of an ad­van­tage than a dis­ad­van­tage. Our sal­mon stands out from the “crowd” of other seafood, has high qual­ity, is mainly de­liv­ered fresh by air, and en­joys a pre­mium po­si­tion with many con­sumers. How many mem­bers make up the NSC? Do they have to ap­ply for mem­ber­ship and are they vet­ted? In or­der to make some of these claims about qual­ity and sus­tain­abil­ity, I would think the coun­cil needs to en­sure their sup­pli­ers can back it up. CC: NSC is a com­pany work­ing on be­half of all seafood ex­porters in Nor­way. Cur­rently there are more than 550 com­pa­nies ex­port­ing a wide range of seafood from Nor­way and all of them con­trib­ute to NSC’s coun­try- of- ori­gin mar­ket­ing. Our mar­ket­ing plans are de­vel­oped through a very close di­a­logue with the seafood in­dus­try to make sure that our mar­ket­ing is in line with the in­dus­try.

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