Great potential for optimal quality
Cod can rest free from injury and become top quality before slaughter through live storage. How is this quality perceived amongst clients and consumers in the European market? And how should Norwegian exporters and producers behave to be able to achieve the optimal value of these products?
This is CATCH
CATCH is a visionary project in which the main goal is to capture the maximum sustainable value of Atlantic cod based on live storage.
By keeping cod alive after capture, the significant challenges associated with large fluctuations in quality and landed volume can be dealt with. This provides opportunities for brand new and more market-oriented value chains in which consumers can continually be offered products of high and consistent quality.
The results from the project are expected to be of significant value, as well as to provide inspiration for other businesses and value chains that are not directly involved in the live storage of cod.
CATCH is a four-year project financed by the Research Council of Norway through the programme Sustainable Innovation in Food and Bio-Based Industries (BIONÆR).
Premium Fresh Cod is a name for live-stored Norwegian cod. Live storage makes it possible for the European market to gain access to fresh Norwegian cod even outside of the winter season.
Minutes after the fish are slaughtered in Norway, they are placed on trucks that will ship them out to the market. The live-stored fish is therefore extremely fresh when it appears at fish counters and on dinner plates in Continental Europe. Do grocery store customers and restaurants guests know to value this quality? How is this fish marketed by distributors and purchasers?
Mark of quality
In summer, researchers from Nofima and the School of Business and Economics at the Arctic University of Norway in Tromsø travelled to Spain to speak with consumers, clients, distributors, kitchen managers and purchasers about accessing Norwegian cod in the summer.
”We would like to explore the perceptions that exist in the market: we want to know more about what differentiates ‘live fish’ from other cod. Which qualities are valued? And does emphasising quality mean that one is willing to pay more for this type of fish out of season? Based on the answers we get, we will be able to give feedback to the Norwegian industry about what the market considers important,” says Senior Researcher Geir Sogn-Grundvåg of Nofima. He leads the large research project CATCH.
If the market is willing, Norwegian exporters can perhaps build up a client portfolio that is guaranteed a delivery of a known quantity of live-stored Norwegian cod outside of the traditional cod season.
Eight industry actors and representatives from five universities took part in the research project on the live storage of cod.
One of the participating universities is UiT—the Arctic University of Norway in Tromsø. Professor Svein Ottar Olsen wants to cooperate with Spanish universities in Murcia and La Coruña to map consumers’ preferences, expectations, experience of quality and willingness to pay for fresh (Norwegian) cod.
”With access to clients in Spain, we are able to both undertake consumer testing and collect data on consumer reactions,” says Svein Ottar Olsen.
It is not just pure, white fillets that are offered to clients in Spain. According to Professor Olsen, the Spanish are innovative in developing new and contemporary products and packaging.
”They add value to products and thereby develop the project range with the help of spices and sauces,” says the consumer researcher.
Researchers are excited to see consumers’ reactions now that they will gather data on consumers’ experiences of live-stored Norwegian cod in the summer heat of Spain.
”The benefits of live storage are many: access, quality and increased shelf life, because the fish is fresh; less waste, because all the fish are good quality; and streamlined production, because the raw materials are always available. Now it will be interesting to see how much of this knowledge on quality accompanies the fish to Spanish consumers, and whether this affects consumers’ choices and preferences,” says Geir Sogn-Grundvåg.