The financial crisis has emphasized the need for Norwegian seafood companies to build long-term relationships in the market. Loyalty between producer and players in the market built on personal relationships and product differentiation is an important factor in establishing a strong position for Norwegian seafood producers. This type of investment in the market ensures that Norwegian seafood producers are less vulnerable to the fluctuation in prices which follow the global price of raw materials as well as to the competition from cheap producers in countries where expenses are low.
Marine Value Creation Programme
The Marine Value Creation Programme (MVP) is the result of an initiative originated in cooperation between the Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs and Innovation Norway. The ultimate goal has been ongoing increased dynamic interaction between companies and the marketplace, based on an understanding of activities and synergies all along the value chain. The different elements of the MVP uses expertise from Innovation Norway’s regional offices throughout the country in order to ensure that their “finger is on the pulse” of the fishing activities all through the value chain. At the same time, close collaboration with research and educational institutions ensures that the Programme remains on the cutting edge – both on a theoretical as well as practical perspective.
The New World
The key of the MVP has been to move away from the traditional seafood industry tendency of a certain “old world” mentality where producers would harvest as much as possible, and then hope that customers would want to buy it. With any supplier-customer relationship, this “old world” strategy would often result in the goods being sold, but at a spot price and often not to the advantage of the producer. The Norwegian seafood industry is transcending this old world.
Naturally, communication with Norwegian seafood companies is critical. One advantage of the MVP lies in the fact that it indeed does span the entire country of Norway by bringing into the project a range of regional Innovation Norway offices, each with specific expertise ensuring quality support for Norwegian seafood companies and the project. The bottom line is that an ongoing close coordination with Innovation Norway as well as the Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs has been a central key to success.
Excellence through Learning
The Expertise Programme portion of the MVP is coordinated by the Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration (NHH) in the west coast city of Bergen, and is designed to provide participants with greater knowledge in the areas of strategy and marketing, as well as contribute to developing skill in applying this knowledge in real-life situations. Participants gain a greater knowledge regarding the marketplace – with the strategic basis to help them penetrate and succeed in the market.
Through case-studies, problem solving, coaching as well as traditional lectures and course attendance, there is a focus on broad participation from various branches of the seafood industry as well as the all-important connections to the various links in the value chain. Lasting over the course of a year, the programme consists of the phases that included strategic analysis, international marketing, strategy implementation, trademark management, marketing communication as well as project presentation and closing.
Networking & Adaptability
Any company’s network is extremely important to the bottom line. Innovation Norway understands this and has created the Market Oriented Company Network as an important part of the MVP. This scheme helps the company build up and strengthen such a network in a systematic and professional way that facilitates success. This scheme assists companies that may have a product advantage that can lead to attaining a higher market price – but are too small alone to achieve this goals. This support can also help in such aspects as assisting companies in establishing a new brand through cooperation with other companies – regional, national or international.
Adaptability towards and understanding of the changing marketplace through all facets of the value chain is central in the Adaptability Programmes portion of the MVP, with the end result being that participating companies often end up with stronger, more focused employees, and the company itself gains a better knowledge of not only their own activities, but also of the customer’s needs. The bottom line is that the customer benefits from a supplier that understands its nuances and needs.
Sustainability & Market Orientation
Through the Competence Programme, the Norwegian seafood industry has gained an increased focus on sustainability and market orientation as part of the competitive global environment. Key factors within this are to continually improve market adaptability, all the time taking into account the deliberate and careful efforts to protect the oceans, fish stocks, and near shore aquaculture habitats that form the very foundation of the industry’s sustainability.
Innovation Norway stresses that the Norwegian parties that utilize the sea’s resources, either through fishing or aquaculture, should have a responsibility to exploit these resources optimally in relation to the demands of the market. Only then can they be concerned with sustainability – environmentally, socially and economically. This is also the reason why Innovation Norway wants to reinforce the demand for a long-term, market-oriented strategy when they evaluate financial participation in investment projects in all areas of the marine industry.