The Fish Works among key speakers at 2024 Norway-UK Seafood Summit

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NSC Summit

Close to 200 stakeholders from across the seafood industry came together at the 2024 Norway-UK Seafood Summit last week to discuss the opportunities and challenges the sector faces.

The event at Fishmongers’ Hall in London on Tuesday 27th February, led with bilateral updates from the Norwegian Minister for Fisheries and Ocean Policy, Cecilie Myrseth, and the UK Minister for Food, Farming and Fisheries, Rt Hon Mark Spencer, on how the two countries are working together, with joint efforts to further strengthen and develop seafood trade and relations. 

The two countries have a long-standing seafood partnership, with Norway being the top exporter of seafood to the UK, holding an estimated 20% share of the market (January-November 2023). In addition, last year the UK became the largest market for frozen cod exports from Norway, and the third largest market for total cod exports from Norway.

Sharing the view that collaboration and transparency are pivotal to securing future growth, Cecilie Myrseth commented: “We have to work together to support growth and sustainability in our seas, it is important for the economy but also because we want to make sure people eat more food from the sea. There are big opportunities for both the UK and Norway to explore together in the ocean.”

British Minister, Rt Hon Mr Spencer followed this up by saying: “The United Kingdom and Norway’s relationship is a historic one, based on friendship, respect, and cooperation. We recognise the importance of seafood from Norway; having easy access to it is important for consumer choice and as part of a healthy diet.” 

Joining speakers from organisations such Kantar World and M&S Food Group in discussions on consumer behaviour and how seafood can win with British consumers in the year ahead was Tiffany Irvin, owner of The Fish Works in Largs. Along with Andrew Crook, president of The NFFF, she led a discussion on menu innovation in fish and chips and the importance of attracting the younger generation.

Tiffany said: “Traditional fish and chips is aimed at over 30s; targeting younger consumers is vital right now. Looking at the cost-of-living crisis, the increase in mortgage rates, gas and electricity, many younger consumers don’t have that issue – maybe they’re still living at home and earning a wage.

“You need to entice those younger customers into your shop with something other than traditional fish and chips. World flavours and global cuisines are a great way to do this. We do a fish taco or haddock bao buns, crab loaded chips, katsu curry with twice cooked chips and they are really popular, appealing to a younger audience not affected by the cost-of-living crisis, and great for lunch time audiences who might not want a full portion of traditional fish and chips.”

Tiffany went on to explain how her local town being home to Sports Scotland inspired her to think about targeting younger, health conscious customers aged 20 and up. 

“If you offer baked fish with chips and a side salad or gherkin you’re adding in potassium and vitamin k. If you market that and tell consumers there’s 35g of protein in a 7oz piece of haddock, you’re tapping into a market you didn’t have before. It’s about finding ways to keep yourself afloat when things are so expensive in our industry right now.”

Hitting on the challenges the seafood market has faced over recent years, Norwegian Seafood Council UK Director Victoria Braathen said she believed seafood is still well-aligned to consumer trends, adding: “It is the perfect fit for those wanting healthy, sustainable and delicious meal options. To build confidence, inspireand achieve understanding for the value of responsibly sourced seafood and provenance, we believe that working together closely across the value chain is key to driving success.”

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