Every day we can read in newspapers how bad the economic frameworks are in some Southern European countries, among them Italy. But even though Italy, as several other countries, are struggling with their own challenges, you feel entrepreneurial culture, high skilled laborers as well as strong traditional craftsmanship. Italians are seen as creative and focused on style and quality. The manufacturing industry is ranked the second largest worldwide. Like in Norway, firms are mainly SMEs. They are very dynamic, strongly oriented to export and pioneers in collaborating to be stronger together. In fact clusters and associations are boosting firms’ performances.

However, not all the strategic attitudes of this complex system can be understood in international statistics, which are mainly based on measuring a nation GDP, public debt or other tangible features. Yes, Italy has a huge public debt, but on the other hand, it’s one of the European countries with lowest private debt and the stock market is solid.

A lot of opportunities in several sectors should not be missed, from logistics to tourism, renewable energies and energy efficiency. The food sector should be devoted great attention. Italians are traditionally keen on food – especially high quality and healthy food, which of course also involves seafood.

Emanuela Teani (in the middle) and Gaia Brandolin (right) from Innovation Norway together with a purchaser at Wholesale Fish Market in Milan. (c) Innovation Norway
Emanuela Teani (in the middle) and Gaia Brandolin (right) from Innovation Norway together with a purchaser at Wholesale Fish Market in Milan. (c) Innovation Norway

Norway has committed resources in building the Italian market for salmon and is now enjoying positive results from it. Norway is considered a quality supplier. The industry in Norway should take into consideration opportunities in the undeveloped market for whitefish and cod species. As of today, Italy’s import of cod is equal to 26 100 tons a year. Norway is a market leader for cured products, but has no market share for fresh and frozen, where Denmark is the main supplier.

A joint survey recently carried out by NSC and Innovation Norway has underlined how Italian retailers as well as seafood importers and wholesalers fully agree about the great potential for growth in whitefish – especially for cod. They are eager to establish the basis for long-term business relations with the Norwegian cod industry, exactly like they have done for salmon and stockfish.

Market orientation is essential in this process as the consumers’ needs are changing fast. Today seafood fillets and time saving alternatives are the most requested products by families and new generations.

We should help the consumer discover Norwegian cod and its importance in every day diet, together with learning how it differentiates from other species that might be (wrongly) perceived as substitutes. Norway should seize the opportunity to enter the market and invest in it in order to increase it, to gain market share and become the leading supplier of cod products.

Do you find any good reason to leave the market to the competitors? We don’t.

This post is written by Merete Kristiansen (NSC) and Emanuela Teani (Innovation Norway). 
For information about the joint survey, please contact:
merete.kristiansen@seafood.no or emanuela.teani@innovationnorway.no.