The Norwegian Seafood Council (NSC), a dedicated marketing partner to Norway’s aquaculture industry and global advocate for Norwegian fisheries, has announced its participation in the 29th edition of Gulfood, which will be held in Dubai from 19 to 23 February 2024. The NSC is returning to the exhibition following its contribution to last year’s installment, as it highlights the success of 2023 and seeks to support the increasing value of Norwegian seafood throughout the Gulf.
As the largest annual F&B sourcing event in the world, Gulfood provides a unique networking platform that allows the NSC to share its knowledge and products with a diverse international audience. The event is expected to bring together over 5,500 major global brands spanning 127 countries, driving exposure for innovative approaches to business within the global F&B ecosystem.
Last year, the NSC marked the occasion with a celebration of its 25-year history as a supplier of Norwegian seafood to the United Arab Emirates (UAE); this year, the group is commemorating 2023 as a record year for exports, both to the UAE and to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).
Over the last 12 months, the NSC has exported a total of 10,997 metric tonnes of seafood to the UAE – a 35 percent increase from 2022, with a value exceeding 345,000 AED. Of the 10,997 tonnes, 9,866 of it was salmon, signaling the overwhelming demand for fresh, whole pink fish. Frozen salmon also comprised a significant portion of the export, with an annual growth rate of 223 percent; experts link the rise to increased consumption and the UAE’s strengthening position as a regional hub for salmon consumption.
Similar statistics are seen in exports to KSA, with over 9,500 tonnes of seafood exports valuing over 285,000 AED. Salmon maintained its popularity, accounting for 7,169 tonnes, with demand for fresh whole salmon remaining highest. The targeted response to rising demand in the region – and subsequent success in export trends – follows the findings of a comprehensive digital survey conducted by the NSC across the UAE and KSA last year.
The study – which aimed to analyze rates of fish consumption, address awareness levels of Norway as a country of origin, and note key drivers and barriers to purchasing salmon – identified that 28 percent of respondents in KSA ate seafood at least once a week, with over half (51 percent) of all respondents who eat seafood at least once every three months opting to prepare their meals at home, as opposed ordering in or dining at a restaurant. In the UAE, 34 percent of respondents are fish or seafood at least once a week, with 55 percent choosing to eat at home.
The results also indicated that Norway was top-of-mind as the dominant country of origin for salmon across both KSA and the UAE, highlighting an increased awareness of and consideration for product history and quality. Key drivers for buying seafood throughout the region were consistent, with the majority of respondents buying salmon for its taste and health benefits, while cost and availability were highlighted as factors that hindered respondents’ purchasing power.
Commenting on the learnings from last year and the NSC’s attendance of Gulfood 2024, Ingelill Jacobsen, Project Manager Emerging Markets, said: “Throughout 2023, we have witnessed a dynamic increase in the synergy between the supply and demand of the Norwegian and Middle Eastern seafood markets, and have been able to respond accordingly to meet a rising interest in fresh, high-quality aquaculture products from Norway. From the survey we conducted late last year, we are now also able to begin addressing the obstacles that consumers are facing – including high costs and limited availability – ensuring that Norwegian salmon becomes easily accessible for buyers in both the UAE and KSA.”
She continued: “We look forward to returning to Gulfood to share Norway’s passion for seafood with the Middle East and remain committed to fostering relationships that will advance ongoing efforts to bring premium Norwegian seafood to all surrounding regional markets.”
Visit the NSC stand at #MP-C18 to find out more about its ongoing trade relationships and the quality of Norway’s blue food. Virtual reality glasses will also be available for visitors who choose to partake in the on-site activation.
To find out more about the NSC and its products, please visit https://norwegianseafoodcouncil.com/.