Following a two-year break as a result of the pandemic, the annual Norway-UK Seafood Summit made a welcome return to Fishmonger’s Hall in London on 27th February 2023.
The event, organised by the Norwegian Seafood Council, focussed on how the two countries can further strengthen and develop seafood trade and relations, as well as initiatives to increase sustainable seafood consumption.
Norway is currently the largest supplier of seafood to the UK, exporting around 146,000 tons of seafood last year worth around £625 million.
Speaking at the Summit, Norwegian minister for fisheries and ocean policy Bjørnar Selnes Skjæran said: “The North Sea has, for centuries, laid a solid foundation for trade, cultural exchange, and shared values between our two countries.
“Seafood has an important role to play in future food systems and is a vital part of a healthy and sustainable diet. Increasing seafood consumption, both in the context of sustainability and health benefits, is a shared agenda for Norway and the UK.”
British minister, Rt Hon Mr Spencer echoed this sentiment, describing how the two countries “have a historic and strong relationship, one of friendship, cooperation, and respect”.
Kate Parker, senior economist from Economist Intelligence, provided an in-depth update on the state-of-play for the UK economy, stating that despite facing a difficult year ahead, it is likely to be transitory with firmer growth from 2024/25 and the UK still remaining the 5th largest market in the long term behind China, USA, India and Germany.
Dr Angus Garrett, head of horizon scanning and long-term issues at Seafish explored the role climate change is likely to play in the immediate and longer-term future. He also made projections around evolving consumer sentiment, choice paradigms and a consideration for health and price too. He said: “Seafood could be recognised as a notable protein focused on quality and convenience – with consumers trusting seafood, recognising its great taste and how it fits with a flexitarian diet and busy lifestyle. This will require pre-competitive collaboration by industry to anticipate and shape market prospects.”
While the health benefits of eating seafood were reiterated, speakers also called for clear-cut marketing and education around how quick and easy fish is to prepare at home, expressed the need to introduce seafood to younger audiences, and suggested the term ‘pescetarian’ is renamed to one that is more relatable.
Norwegian Seafood Council UK director, Victoria Braathen concluded: “As highlighted by Kristin Langeland, Norwegian Seafood Federation, we need 70% more food by 2050 to feed our growing population. 98% of all food is currently produced on land, yet with two thirds of our planet covered by oceans, this is a clear opportunity for more. It’s been so encouraging to hear so many different perspectives surrounding seafood and the future of this nutritious, sustainable protein today.
“From the enthusiasm and passion evident in this room today, the future really is bright for the seafood category. We recognise the opportunity we have for Norwegian seafood in the UK, and we are excited for the coming years where we look to increase the visibility, awareness and value of Norwegian cod and haddock in the UK.”