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A taste for the best

The Greater Stavanger region is often referred to as the Norwegian answer to the French region of Lyon, famous for its culinary creativity. As with Lyon, the Greater Stavanger region prides itself on new ideas balanced with a firm respect for tradition, quality and values. The population in the Greater Stavanger region not only loves good food, there are tens of thousands involved in literally all aspects of the food cluster.

The roots run deep here in Greater Stavanger, with production of both raw materials and food products a major industry, second only to energy as the top employer in this dynamic region. Greater Stavanger and its activities related to the food industry are having a profound and positive impact internationally as well. These positive developments are going hand-in-hand with the goals set by Strategy 2020 that aim to make food products from Greater Stavanger more available, continue to increase quality, and integrate sustainability and environmental focus into all aspects of activity.

With a mild climate, fertile soil, and a population that has traditionally thrived on its international connection, the food industry here covers the entire chain of activities from primary production (growing and harvesting) to processing companies, distributors, restaurants and shops that all play in central role – not only in the economy but in the very social fabric of the region. Seafood, meat products, and, not in the least, fruits and vegetables, have long been the pride of the regional population, with products enjoying special status nationally and internationally. A good example of this strength is the tomato – with 80% of the entire Norwegian production being grown and harvested in the Greater Stavanger region.

In Rogaland’s mild climate with fertile soil, no less than 80% of all Norwegian tomatoes are grown.
© Elisabeth Tønnesen
Norway celebrated Geir Skeie’s victory at the 2009 Bocuse d’Or in Lyon.
© Elisabeth Tønnesen

Bocus d’Or & Stavanger
One close connection between the region and Lyon is the Bocuse d’Or, and it was little wonder that Norway was given the honour of hosting the Bocuse d’Or Europe 2008 event, pitting 20 chefs from 20 countries against each other for the honour of becoming “European champion” and participating in the final Bocuse d’Or held in Lyon in 2009. As the European Capital of Culture for 2008, Stavanger was the understandably proud of its role in this internationally famous culinary competition where Norwegian Geir Skeie took top honours.

Norway was again the proud overall winner in Lyon, when Skeie again took top honours using the official products of the Bocuse d’Or 2009; Aberdeen Angus Beef for the meat dish and Norwegian cod, king scallops and wild prawns for the fish dish. The legend of Greater Stavanger, its culinary expertise, and its ties to Bocuse D’or continues to grow as a result of an agreement signed between Chef Eyvind Hellstrøm, the leader of the Bocuse d’Or Norway and Prima Jæren to supply meat raw materials to the Bocuse d’Or Norway until the world event Bocuse d’Or in Lyon in France in 2011.

Prima Jæren typifies the innovative spirit of the Greater Stavanger region as the company was award the annual Research and Innovation Prize by IRIS – (the International Research Institute of Stavanger), an internationally recognized research institute with a high focus on applied research. This was the first time a company within the food industry had received this sought-after award.

Bringing good food into focus is the goal of the Culinary Institute of Norway and other members of NCE Culinology.
© Elisabeth Tønnesen

Standing Together
Standing strongly behind all activities related to food is the Professional Forum for Food and Beverage. Founded in 1990, the Professional Forum for Food and Beverage is organized as a corporation with a Board of Directors that consists of representatives from leading companies and institutions within the food industry in the region. Led by Eivind Hålien, the organization is dedicated to promoting the ongoing development of innovation and expertise within the food industry in the region, continuing to develop a network that extends far beyond the border of the Greater Stavanger region.

The Professional Forum for Food and Beverage has been central in many of the regional development measures and projects that have been set up within food sector within the region, including the Gladmat festival, Fjordkjøkken and NCE Culinology. For newcomers to the greater Stavanger region with a personal or professional interest in food and the food industry, the Forum for Food and Beverage (matforum.no) is an excellent starting point.

According to Director Hålien, “This has been a twenty-year process of talking and working together that has led to results that we are seeing today. The core of the success has been the enthusiasm, cooperation and patience – together leading to the building of expertise and values. The chain of activities leading from production to experience and innovation has led to increase value, knowledge, and not in the least, national and international attention.”

Another important focus area for the Professional Forum for Food and Beverage is “Måltidets Hus” (The National Centre of Industrial Gastronomy), a major project involving a number of organizations including NOFIMA Norconserv, The Culinary Institute of Norway, TINE FOU, EWOS Innovation and NCE Culinology. Opened in 2009, Måltidets Hus will function as a venue for innovation – and arena not only for the region’s R&D environment but also for industry experts, the food industry in general and the media.

Expertise in Action
The Greater Stavanger region has a long tradition with using its fertile soil to produce the best in meats, fruit and vegetables. These resources, combined with the bountiful sea, will continue to provide the strong basis for full value chains in the agriculture and marine sectors in the future. Still, the sector’s already strong position in both the national and international food market cannot be taken for granted, and the NCE (Norwegian Centres of Expertise) Culinology is in place and prepared to take a proactive approach to coordinated planning and activity.

The organization plays a central role in agriculture and marine food production industries, ensuring that companies receive top-level, professional support through innovation-oriented R&D projects, innovation in practice and other cluster-strategic activities. According to NCE Culinology General Manager Anne-Siri Høiland, “Our focus areas include basic knowledge; building knowledge with focus on molecular gastronomy, understanding the consumer, process optimization, industrial manufacturing and innovation. The main goal is to build knowledge through innovation, and implement these factors in increasing added-value and profit for the food industry.”

Each year, Stavanger’s Gladmat, or “Happy Food” Festival attracts thousands of visitors ready for a summer extravaganza of food from around the world.
© SSigbjørsen/SrN/RS/SVG2008

Covering the Entire Chain
NCE Culinology members cover the entire chain of activity from marine to agriculture, research and development, governmental institutions, and the financial sector. All of these areas feature companies and organization important to the food industry, ranging from companies such as Marine Harvest and EWOS Innovation within the Marine Sector to Nortura (Gilde, Prior), Prima Jæren and TINE BA within Agriculture. Naturally, R&D is extremely important in helping keep its cutting-edge reputation, and NCE Culinology members such as Bioforsk, Innovation Park Stavanger, Nofima Norconserv and the University of Stavanger.

One partner in NCE Culinology is the Culinary Institute of Norway, aimed at bringing good food into focus, spreads enthusiasm for food and works to increase the understanding of food and beverage as important aspects of culture. The culinary institute works within the fields of training, promotion and meals development, both for professionals in the food and drink industry and for anyone who is interested in food and food culture.

Creativity and innovation is also well-represented in the yearly food festival “Gladmat Festival” (best translated as “The Happy Food Festival) that attracts national and international attention. This festival typifies the important of the food industry in the region, and is the biggest festival in Northern Europe. For information regarding the Gladmat festival, see the website www.gladmat.no.

Innovation & Success
The food manufacturer Fjordland is a good example of innovation and cooperation from Stavanger region. This success story has it roots in a cooperative effort between the chefs at the Culinary Institute of Norway and research at Norconserv (now NOFIMA Norconserv), an institute working for the food processing industry. The end result has been instrumental in contributing to the realization of a product that sells ten million meals a year. Fjordland develops and refines ideas based mainly on its owners’ raw materials, as well as from fish or shellfish, creating value creating value through product development, branding and sales.

Norconserv’s key activities are research, development and training in industrial production of food with extended shelf-life. With large parts of the Greater Stavanger region’s food industry geared toward the export market and international trading, Norconserv’s activities take on an important meaning. The Institute places great emphasis on optimizing the value-added chain from raw material to end product, and is a centre of expertise for industrial processes and production.

In 2003 Norconserv was reorganized as a corporation owned by Fiskeriforskning (now known as Nofima), the Norconserv Foundation and the International Research Institute of Stavanger (IRIS). From 2008 Nofima has been included in the new research group Nofima. The Nofima Group aims to continually increase the competitiveness of the aquaculture industry, fishing industry and food industry through research in the world and delivery of value-added services.

The municipality of Jæren plays a strong role in Greater Stavanger’s food cluster activities.
© Elisabeth Tønnesen

Regional Strength
The food industry related activities are well-represented in many of Greater Stavanger’s municipalities, from restaurants to production to processing. The municipality of Time is a large agricultural area with the farmers who invest and focus on the future. On the basis of agriculture has been developed industry with high expertise in several fields. Most were employed by the industry sector and businesses that drive the retail trade, hotels and restaurant.

All of Greater Stavanger’s municipalities have a range of activities within the food industry, such as Hå Municipality, the country’s most important livestock municipality. Central in both the strategy of the Hå Municipality as well as the corporate activities is the focus on the environment – and one excellent example of this is the recycling of the carbon dioxide produced from Tine’s production facilities to direct use in greenhouses used to grow tomatoes – plants need high levels of CO2. In addition, Tine is focusing on the development of a NOK 1.5 billion facility there, to be completed in 2011.

Balance & Sustainable
Tine BA is a strong believer in sustainable development and balance with the environment. As Norway’s largest producer, distributor and exporter of dairy products, this “thought leadership” sets an excellent example for this company that is strongly positioned in the Norwegian consciousness. Innovation is key to the success of Tine, with a strong emphasis on research and development. As the sales and marketing organization for Norway’s dairy, Tine BA is responsible for product development, quality assurance, production and distribution planning, marketing and the export of TINE products.

Total acreage of the new TINE facility will be approximately 25,000 square metres. With a total cost estimate of nearly NOK 1.5 billion, there will be no costs spared in ensuring that this facility represents the state-of-the-art when it comes to functionality, sustainability and environmental friendliness. This environmental focus is shown in the fact that the estimated energy use by the facility will be 34% lower than the total of the four processing plants that the new facility will replace in addition to a reduction of nearly 40% in CO2 emissions. The new facility will provide a good basis for progressive and attractive jobs, and shows the success of the Hå Municipalities ongoing strategy to make land and resources readily available to food producers. In addition to TINE, a number of companies are now well-established there, including Prima Jæren, Nortura and others.

Covering the Entire Value Chain
Felleskjøpet is another strong player in the Greater Stavanger region. This agricultural cooperative serves as a retailer of agricultural operating equipment including animal food and seeds. Felleskjøpet seeks to cover the entire value chain – both horizontal and vertical – and innovation is one key word in the activities undertaken. FK’s primary sphere of activity is the production of feed concentrates, which forms the very backbone of FK’s activities. With a market share of 68%, comparable to more than 1.1 million tonnes of feed concentrates, the organization is the single largest player in the Norwegian feed concentrates market ruminants, swine, poultry, horses, fur-bearing animals, dogs and cats. One type of fish feed is actually made from peas – and as it turns out the fish very much like this vegetable!

Klepp Municipality is known for its excellent climate, where the condition for agriculture gives it the rank of one of the top areas in the country in this field. The second largest agricultural municipality in the Greater Stavanger region, the growth season is long with a mild climate and plentiful precipitation, making it the ideal spot for production of vegetables and a wide range of agricultural crops. Other municipalities such as Gjesdal are known for their wool and mutton production, and have made the area even more attractive with the establishment of Gjesdal Industrial Park, offering full 290 acres of regulated, strategic location industry areas to companies looking for the combination of an excellent place to work and live.

Fosså in Hjelmeland Municipality is home to Marine Harvest activities related to fish and shellfish production. Marine Harvest is the world’s leading seafood company, and is playing an important role in the changing seafood industry through sustainability and innovation. Marine Harvest is also active in Ryfylke, where the company farms cod in the process from eggs to small fish in the picturesque fjords in that municipality. Both municipalities are also active within the sheep industry, with a range of activities related to production of wool as well as meat.

The food industry in the Stavanger is not only linked to tradition and history, but to the future as well as individual companies, organizations, institutions, the government and the region as a whole work towards a taste for the best.

Marine Harvest is globally respected for its sustainable activities within aquaculture, and has a number of installations in the Greater Stavanger region.
© Marine Harvest/ Steinar Johansen

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