Should be more innovative

October 11, 2010 12:48

The Norwegian fisheries industry is good at adopting new technology but has much to gain when it comes to creating new products, says Nofima Scientist Audun Iversen, reports with reference to Nofima.

On commission from the Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs, Nofima in collaboration with Frost Forretningsutvikling has assessed the fisheries industry's ability to innovate. The conclusion is clear: There is a lot of money to gain by innovating traditional fish products.

"The companies need more competence in product development and marketing," says Iversen. "They need to pursue their distinctive character if they are going to be visible among their competitors."

The scientists have conducted interviews with many companies to study the processes that occur when they reach new routines or new products. The scientists have also studied the companies' "helpers", those who contribute capital or competence when something new shall be developed. In this way, they have found out who contributes and which obstacles the companies encounter when they will test new paths.
Small producers more visible

Even though most Norwegian fish is exported overseas, fish is becoming steadily more visible in Norwegian stores. Small producers are very visible at the fish counter and consequently become brands they consumers recognise - and prefer.

"Companies like Sunnmøre Røykeri and Halvors tradisjonsfisk only have three or four staff, but their products are very visible in the shops," says Iversen. "Many larger producers have a lot to learn from their focus on understanding the market."

Good, old products can also form the basis for innovation. A well established product gained new initiative and increased sales when Stabburet launched its tinned mackerel fillet in tomato sauce in new packaging. They have also added new flavour additives to the product, which had not had its packaging or content touched for years.
Efficient fisheries industry

Product development is just one of several ways companies can be innovative. Measures to reduce costs, the use of new technology and increasing the efficiency of processes are also ways of innovating that can provide major gains for the companies. The fisheries industry is doing well in these areas, according to the report.

However, such innovations do not lead to the fisheries industry having more unique products to offer. Consequently, companies end up competing to have the lowest price possible, which can lead to the gains made by reducing costs simply disappearing.

"It is up to the companies themselves to determine what they want to concentrate on," says Iversen. "They should focus on what they are good at and create a position in the market. Not all companies can have finished products at the seafood counter, but a sound strategy based on good knowledge about the markets is a prerequisite for profitable innovation."

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