Italian experts predict a magnificent future for Stock Fish from Lofoten

Innovation Norway organizes seminar for the stock fish producers for transfer of competence for the future development of the industry

Photo: Gunn Norvik, Norwegian Seafood Council

Photo: Gunn Norvik, Norwegian Seafood Council

Tørrfisk fra Lofoten, stock fish from Lofoten, is the first Norwegian food speciality to have obtained recognition as a protected geographical indication in the EU. Italy is our main stock fish market, but volumes are shrinking, mainly due to Norwegian producers acting as suppliers of raw material focusing very little on the consumers. The producers are now facing the job of developing a strategy for commercial exploitation of this recognition and thus turn the negative trend. In order to facilitate this important task, the IN offices in Bodø and Milan organized a seminar for the stock fish producers on Nov 19th, bringing in Italian experts to share their knowledge and experiences.

With 276 food products, in addition to 500 wine labels, Italy has more than earned its rank as the n. 1 producer of high quality protected indications. Several of these products, such as Parma Ham and Parmesan cheese have become global brands. The Italian experience is therefore a unique source of knowledge for other producers aiming at creating value based on protected origins.

During the seminar, Mauro Rosati, Director for the foundation Qualivita and advisor to the Italian Ministry of Agriculture, stated that Tørrfisk fra Lofoten has a unique opportunity to build a brand which will enjoy premium recognition both in Italy and in other markets. The unique quality, the natural production process in a clean environment and the unique history behind the product represents a starting point that more than levels the potential of many of the Italian brands we have learned to know so well. The protected indication also represents an opportunity for the producers to change the power balance that constitute a challenge for the stock fish producers on the Italian market. However, success in this will require a carefully planned and implemented strategy.

Cesare Mazzetti, Director of the Balsamico Vinegar Consortium in Modena stressed the need for close collaboration between the producers and that this sometimes requires compromising. There is more to be gained through collaboration than every producer going his own way. He referred to the experiences of his own consortium spending 15 years on finding an agreement. Had they known upfront how much it would cost them in terms of lower margins, they would all be more than happy to compromise much earlier!

Fabrizio Filippi, Director of the Olive Oil Consortium of Tuscany, explained how a strategy for protected indications must be based on strict quality control and illustrated the tracking system of the consortium. Every bottle of olive oil is traceable down to the olive trees it was produced from. Professor Chiara Mauri, Director of Food & Beverage Department at the world leading MBA-programme at the Bocconi University in Milan, gave the Norwegian producers a crash course in food brand building and urged them to continuous communication with the consumers. Also the Norwegian organ administrating the Norwegian part of the EU-system for protected indications contributed with their competence together with the Norwegian Seafood Council and DNV GL.

protected-food__2_At the end of the seminar, the stock fish producers confirmed that the seminar had given them important knowledge about critical success factors that they will discuss more in detail in their work with the strategy.

Director of Innovation Norway’s office in Milan, Elisabeth S. Meyer, says the seminar is an excellent example of how collaboration between Innovation Norway’s offices home and abroad gives Norwegian industries access to key foreign competence and strategic advice.

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