Norwegian herring marketed as a substitute for Brazilian sardines at Supermarkets in Brazil. (Photo: Finn-Arne Egeness, Nofima)
Herring sector seeks to grow in Brazil
Tuesday, March 20, 2012, 02:50 (GMT + 9)
Norwegian herring producers should take advantage of rising seafood consumption in Brazil, says Nofima Mat, the Norwegian Institute of Food, Fisheries and Aquaculture Research.
The market is expected to grow from 1.8 to 2.4 million tonnes over the next few years.
Nofima and the Fisheries and Aquaculture Industry Research Fund (FHF) have discovered that distribution, product development and positioning are key elements for growth.
The largest supermarket chains are currently the main sales channel for Norwegian herring in Brazil, but the emerging consumer shops at smaller grocery stores.
The supermarket chains primarily sell the herring thawed in the fresh fish counter and, as Norwegian companies and their clients have developed frozen products to a lesser degree, the creation of new products adapted to the sales outlet could boost demand for herring.
Emerging customers -- the consumers who shop at the local grocery store --often have more limited purchasing power and little freezer capacity at home, so they need to buy fish for each meal, which demands smaller packs.
Also, fish must be thawed before it is made available to the consumers.
One possibility is for Norwegian businesses to establish a partnership with one or more Brazilian companies to thaw the fish in an optimal manner prior to distribution.
Nofima noted that since mostly fresh fish is sold at the markets in Brazil, it may be simpler to gain entry with thawed herring in fish boxes rather than frozen herring in 20 kg cartons.
Despite the high quality of Norwegian herring, it has largely been marketed as a substitute for Brazilian sardines, which are often of poorer quality. This marketing scheme results from two three-month periods when local fishing comes to a halt due to fish stock management.
This positioning is further reinforced by the choice of name, as Norwegian herring is often sold as Norwegian sardines, but industrial actors say that the name change from Norwegian herring to Norwegian sardines was successful, so this should be pursued.
Something else to deal with are several tariff barriers designed to protect the national value chain for pelagic products in Brazil, particularly within the canning industry.
The increase in herring prices in recent years has led to a drop in exports. In 2008, Norwegian companies exported 2,073 tonnes of frozen round herring to Brazil while last year this amount fell drastically to 988 tonnes.
To succeed in the middle class segment, Nofima asserted, Norwegian herring companies need to communicate the health benefits of eating herring to an even greater extent, and note that pelagic fish that live in cold water are healthier than pelagic fish that live in warm water.