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Whats happening to the fresh fish?

by 5m Editor
30 May 2006, at 1:00am

NORWAY - In Norway, increasingly more frozen fish is being brought to land. "At the same time, European consumers are demanding more fresh fish, and the prices are rising", says Scientist Bjrn Inge Bendiksen.

Whats happening to the fresh fish? - In Norway, increasingly more frozen fish is being brought to land. "At the same time, European consumers are demanding more fresh fish, and the prices are rising", says Scientist Bjrn Inge Bendiksen.


Scientist Bjrn Inge Bendiksen.
In Norway, many fillet factories have gone under in recent years. Production of frozen fillets is no longer profitable. Industries in countries with lower wage costs can produce these products for less. This is also why the fillet industry, organisations in the fisheries industry and political authorities want to change over to fresh products.

The proximity to the European markets gives Norway an advantage in being able to deliver fresh, high-quality fish. Why then does it pay to freeze the fish on board?

"There are several factors that explain this development. One is that the fillet industries in other countries have lower production costs and are thus able to pay more for the fish, even though they make frozen products. It's difficult for the fillet industry in Norway to offer a higher price for the fresh raw materials because of the large processing costs here at home, partly because of higher wages", says Bendiksen.

"Another explanation for the increased share of frozen fish is that these are attractive raw materials for the clipfish industry. This part of the fishing industry has had higher margins on its products than the fillet industry and has therefore been able to pay more for the fish. Today, the clipfish producers use largely frozen fish".

If frozen fish pays more, isn't it then OK that it's frozen on board?

"If the goal is the best possible profitability for the fleet, this could be a correct strategy. The negative side is that this affects those parts of the land industry that don't receive enough raw materials."

But the clipfish industry has increased production, and has better margins on its products than the fillet producers, even though most of the raw materials that are used are frozen. Doesn't this show that it's possible to succeed with frozen fish in Norway?

"For the clipfish industry, this is profitable today, but use of frozen raw materials can also be a weak strategy. We don't know what's going to happen in the future. When the raw materials are frozen, they can be processed anywhere, and then it's not certain that the Norwegian industry is most competitive. Production can just as well take place in other countries in Europe, or in China".

"Experiences from other parts of the Norwegian seafood industry indicate that use of frozen raw materials gradually has led to increased competition from other countries and phasing out of industry in Norway", says Bjrn Inge Bendiksen.

Source: Fiskeriforskning - 30th May 2006

5m Editor