|Gunvar Lenhard Wie, director of the NSC for the Korean and Japanese markets and Counsellor at the Norwegian Embassy in Korea, speaks at a press conference at The Plaza Hotel in Seoul, Wednesday. / Courtesy of Norwegian Seafood Council|
By Kwak Yeon-soo
Korean consumers have a greater interest in the origin of seafood compared with other importers, said the Norwegian Seafood Council, Wednesday. The council is a state-run organization in charge of business strategy and marketing support for the Norwegian fishing industry.
According to the organization's global survey results, seven out of 10 global respondents considered the origin of seafood as an important factor while eight out of 10 Koreans chose the origin as a key determinant when buying seafood.
Likewise, safety and sustainability are becoming increasingly important factors for consumers on top of health benefits and taste.
At a press conference, Norwegian Ambassador to Korea Frode Solberg delivered a speech to stress the importance of strengthening ties in future-oriented businesses, such as the seafood sector, in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Korea and Norway.
"Korea is one of the most interesting markets for the Norwegian seafood industry, as it is the biggest Asian importer of Norwegian mackerel, salmon and king crab," he said.
Gunvar Lenhard Wie, director of the council for the Korean and Japanese markets and counsellor at the Norwegian Embassy in Korea, said Korean consumers tend to consider freshness, price and origin when choosing seafood.
He also showed graphs detailing Korea's import data, showing that Norway provided 1.4 percent of Korea's total seafood imports in 2018.
"We saw a slight reduction in mackerel exports last year because the Korean mackerel proportion has gone up," he said. "But that's also a good sign because we can now share our market insights on how to export seafood. Since we export 95 percent of our seafood to 146 countries across the globe, we have rich expertise and know-how."
Wie emphasized that the industry needs to prepare for the future by promoting seafood as sustainable and ensuring responsible resource management.
He also said because convenience is an influential trend nowadays, when traditional channels are being challenged by e-commerce, the seafood industry needs to diversify its marketing channels.
Anders Snellingen, manager of the council's Global Operations, said that protein demand is expected to grow 73 percent by 2050 and that the health benefits of eating seafood should be communicated to differentiate seafood from other protein sources.
"Korea and Norway have a very similar focus. We are both seafood-rich nations, we both care about food safety, sustainability and technological development," he said.
The council works on behalf of Norwegian exporters and supply chains, and helps implement their business strategies in marketing and communication.
The organization's mission is to raise awareness of the health benefits of protein-rich seafood and support import stakeholders with market insights.