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Standing Strong, But Future Uncertain

NORWAY - Clipfish sells well on the Portuguese market, but as the market for "quick" clipfish dishes grows, Norwegian producers must be on the ball.

The Portuguese want Norwegian clipfish. This is confirmed by market research conducted by Nofima (formerly Fiskeriforskning) in Tromsø. Although it's a modern European country, this "Middle Age food" is performing strongly.

Clipfish buyers believe Norwegian clipfish is good. It should therefore be marked "NORUEGA".

Want Norwegian

In order to better understand how the main market for clipfish functions and increase knowledge about customer demands, Nofima has carried out market research in Portugal.

The clipfish was sampled by around 200 people in Porto. They answered questions, tasted and graded different types of clipfish.

"One thing we found was that people there want clipfish from "Noruega". They perceive the fact that the fish comes from Norway as a mark of quality," says Scientist Jens Østli.

"Besides price, many chose clipfish with their hearts as it were. And something which would appeal to their hearts is that Norwegian clipfish should be marked with "NORUEGA", says Østli. "This will enable us to catch customers who are standing at the counter to choose clipfish for dinner."

The market research in Portugal required consumers to grade clipfish of different quality.

Cut up

The Portuguese kitchen is experiencing change. More and more women are working outside the home, which has consequences for food preparation. The trend, like other European societies, is that cooking shall be quick and easy.

"We see that the traditional clipfish is under pressure in this market," says Scientist Bjørg Helen Nøstvold. "New products where the fish is already rehydrated and/or cut are becoming increasing more popular. These dishes are much quicker to prepare."

This is where the big challenge lies.

"When customers choose these new products, the producer's brand name is more important than the country from which the fish is sourced. The clipfish is losing its origins," says Nøstvold. "The industry's task to an even greater extent in the future will be to get clipfish buyers to choose Norwegian fish precisely because it is Norwegian."

The project is financed by the Fishery and Aquaculture Industry Research Fund (FHF) and the Norwegian Fishermen's Sales Organisation.