Frozen fish better than fresh

It is becoming increasingly common for defrosted fish fillets to be sold in fresh fish counters at European supermarkets. This can cause major consequences for Norwegian fillet producers.

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Nofima Scientist Finn-Arne Egeness presented the results of the research at the Nor-Fishing Expo in Trondheim this week.

The results show that increasingly more supermarket chains in Europe prefer to sell previously frozen fish fillets, which are defrosted under controlled conditions, instead of traditional fresh fish.

“It states on the back of the packs that the fish has previously been frozen and returned to chill temperature, but probably not all of the consumers realise this. By using defrosted fish, the supermarket chains secure better access to fish year-round, quicker delivery times and less wastage,” says Egeness.

“At the same time blind tests show that consumers don’t notice any difference between fresh and defrosted fish. For the supermarket chains, frozen fish solves many of the challenges they have had with genuine fresh products.”

For the Norwegian fishery industry, increased sale of fillet products based on frozen fish could create major opportunities and challenges.

“This can cause consequences for the processing industry in Norway as more production of consumer products can be moved closer to the consumer markets, rather than close to the fishing area. The industry needs to have a conscious position in relation to this. But the Norwegian fishery industry currently lacks knowledge about what the best raw material alternative is, whether it is fresh fish that is filleted before being frozen, headed and gutted fish that is filleted after thawing or fish that has been frozen twice,” says Egeness.

“If the market prefers fresh fish that is filleted before being frozen, this can open new market opportunities for the producers of frozen fish fillets in Norway. Consequently, it is important that Norwegian companies acquire knowledge about the opportunities and challenges created by this change in the market.”

The results are based on projects financed by the Fishery and Aquaculture Industry Research Fund (FHF).

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