New fish dishes for grocery stores

A wider selection of attractive fish dishes in the grocery sector can help increase the public’s consumption of fish and the industry’s profitability. Nine new business concepts are ready for further development by the seafood industry.

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Portrettbilde av Jorunn Sofie Hansen
A wider selection of attractive fish dishes in the grocery sector can help increase the public’s consumption of fish and the industry’s profitability.
A wider selection of attractive fish dishes in the grocery sector can help increase the public’s consumption of fish and the industry’s profitability.

Nine new business concepts are ready for further development by the seafood industry.

In both Norway and the world in general, seafood has a strong position as a nutritious part of the dinner table. Consumers want exciting, diverse, and sophisticated dining experiences, but also fast, simple, and tasty ready-made food. Norwegians eat too little fish and other types of seafood, with the authorities recommending at least two fish meals a week. It is a serious matter that children, youth, and young adults are the ones who eat the least amount of fish, and from a health standpoint it would be beneficial if these groups ate more seafood.

A major challenge will be to meet the demand for exciting product ideas so that it becomes natural for such consumers to eat fish for either dinner or other meals. Using insight into consumer behaviour and needs, the aim of the project was to develop new product concepts and business opportunities that actors in the industry could take advantage of. A wider selection of attractive fish dishes in grocery stores can help increase both the public’s consumption of fish and the seafood industry’s profitability.

In-depth analysis is the first step
Under the leadership of project manager Jorunn Sofie Hansen, the process started with an in-depth analysis. In addition to trying to understand customers’ wants and needs, we also focused on getting feedback from major grocery store chains and store managers in regard to bottlenecks and how to exploit the potential of product innovations in the marketplace.

Key themes (platforms) that this analysis identified were:
1) Pure, healthy, and fresh
2) Fish is festive food
3) A feeling of success
4) Fish for children

On the basis of this feedback, we developed an innovation portfolio consisting of 9 business opportunities. By business opportunity we mean something new that we believe the industry can launch and profit from. This requires that business opportunities are described in an overall manner, and they must cover a consumer need and be strategically important for the industry.

Here is a brief overview of the suggested business ideas, which all parties in the seafood industry are invited to use freely:

1. Fish Counter, Ltd.
Fish Counter, Ltd. is about establishing a separate fishmonger’s in grocery stores in collaboration with the grocery chains. In such a set-up, the owner is responsible for running the fishmonger’s and pays a percentage of the turnover to the grocery store as rent. Fish Counter, Ltd. is about better logistics and a greater assurance of quality – we have some good stories to recount here. If desirable, the concept can be combined with the serving of light refreshments in the store.

2. Gourmet fish farce
This is an entirely new category of products based on e.g. mousses and pâtés and that are intended as party food. The products are delivered complete with sauces and other trimmings, so that it is easy to make an appetizer or a main course, e.g. light and airy catfish quenelles in lobster sauce. The concepts can be sold in the fresh fish counter or in an elegant and exclusive package in the delicatessen cooler.

3. Fish soup kit
The basis is tasty fish stock (in whatever form) that gives the consumers a head start for quickly and easily making delicious fish soup. The consumer adds ready packages of fish, shellfish, and vegetables to the stock, thereby experiencing the joy of making a good homemade fish soup. The consumer can choose between several variants of fish stock, such as tomato-based, cream-based, etc., as well as various types of fish and vegetables, so that he or she can make many variants of delicious soups.

4. Fish as a sandwich spread
Another idea is to develop a new high-end series of seafood products that are suitable as sandwich spreads. We believe there is a large potential for additional products in the market, e.g. sliced products with colours and patterns that children like and that do not make a mess of their packed lunch. The concepts are sold under a shared brand name, but could be everything from tubes and cups to flow packs. Several companies can collaborate on the product, or alternatively a company could produce the products for other firms.

5. BBQ fish
This idea covers an entire series of high-quality products that are ready to be grilled. These could be complete product solutions with informational materials, packages, and equipment, e.g. fish with spices and herbs, packed with lemon, vegetables, and so forth. The groundwork would thereby be laid for the consumer to succeed in grilling, with recommendations for oils and marinades. We want to sell meals rather than raw ingredients.

6. Fish on Friday
The basic idea here is for a seafood chef to compose a fish meal, which will be sold in a box with the appropriate ingredients, the recipe, and a wine recommendation. This is perfect for when you want a quick gourmet dinner, for instance on a Friday night; in this way you can get some of the restaurant experience at home. This is therefore a meal we choose when we want an extra special treat. Mastering the art of cooking at home is a great joy – fish is festive food!

7. Grand Cru
The most high-end seafood concepts are sold under a separate denomination, similar to how Gran Cru denotes wine from the most high-quality vineyards. In Norway this concept can be implemented by a consortium that defines quality standards, owns the brand name, and is responsible for joint marketing. Key criteria here are purity, healthiness, and freshness, and technologies such as super-cooling can be part of the entire value chain. The most high-end seafood concepts must be treated with care and precision.

8. The treasure chest
The treasure chest contains stories and tasks that involve children in preparing the food and getting them to like fish. The package may for example contain seafood-related themes that children find amusing, featuring filets or farce products that children like, for example Captain Blackbeard’s Fish Burgers. Or it could be a package of ready-made dried goods, where you choose fish and other fresh goods from the shopping list on the box. Another alternative is for the treasure chest to be completely packaged for sale in the fish counter.

9. Arctic Adventure
Foreign and domestic tourists can be offered adventure trips with commercial fishing boats that provide extraordinary nature experiences – including in wet and windy weather. The fish that are caught by the tourists can be specially wrapped so as to be taken home.

Another alternative would be to have a gourmet chef on board who could teach the guests how to prepare fish and seafood dishes. A package could be offered that includes overnight accommodation, fishing trips, guided tours of production plants, and gourmet meals.

The project was conducted for the Norwegian Seafood Association (NSL) on behalf of the Norwegian seafood industry. The work was financed by the Fishery and Aquaculture Industry Research Fund (FHF). The project’s developmental work was led by Nofima in collaboration with Brandgarden (Geir Håbesland). The project’s corporate participants were Naustvik Enghav AS and Sagamat AS. Kristin Lauritzsen and Kari Merete Griegel represented NSL’s administration. Industrial designer Kjersti Schulte made recommendations at a project meeting.

The project report and other publications can be downloaded free of charge at www.nsl.no and www.fhf.no.

This article was first published in the trade journal Norsk Sjømat [Norwegian Seafood].

Consumer and sensory sciences  

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