Despite the fact that a lot has happened since PwC launched the very first Seafood Barometer back in 2017, a majority of leaders are hesitant to believe that the Norwegian seafood industry will reach the 5 million tonne mark by 2050.
Meet Marte Vassbotten, Manager at PwC Norway. She formed the barometer together with a dedicated group of people within the company. They are all about seafood and are devoted to making sure the industry is being heard.
And it was perhaps no coincidence that Marte ended up here.
– My family owns a fish farming company in western Norway, so I guess I have always had a foot in the door, she says.
When speaking to Marte one can tell she has a real passion for seafood. And we have a lot we want to ask her. We start by looking into the crystal ball, 30 somewhat years into the future.
Why will Norway fail to reach the production vision of 5 million tonne salmon and trout within 2050, Marte?
– We are not quite where we should be. There needs to be new rounds of licensing and they need to come faster, Marte says firmly.
– However, in the new barometer we have adjusted our growth scenarios after new licensing initiatives, for example the “traffic light system” and land-based salmon production. Despite all of this, we will still be short on reaching the 5 million tonne vision.
– We will give the seafood industry a voice and we want to create debate, in consultation with PwC's analyses and perspectives, says Marte Vassbotten. Photo: Norwegian Seafood Council
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Although showing a pessimistic view on the 5 million tonne vision, the different growth scenarios in the new Seafood Barometer is telling us that it’s not entirely impossible. It just requires certain actions.
New licensing is a prerequisite for industry growth, says Marte. There is however something that makes the PwC Manager talk more passionately: sustainability. More precisely, that the industry develops in a sustainable way.
Much appreciated by Marte, this year's barometer shows that most respondents see sustainable production as one of the top drivers for increased seafood demand. The first barometer in 2017 showed sustainability among the bottom drivers.
What has led to this sudden change?
– I think a lot of companies acknowledge the importance of sustainability for their customers and the end consumers.
– Seafood is more climate friendly than a lot of other food. With that being said, the industry still needs to reduce its climate footprint. Customers and the government both push companies to choose a more sustainable path.
The barometer tells the story of an industry that is improving on sustainability but is not yet fully mature. For example, only one third of the respondents asked have sustainability integrated into their strategy. Many of the companies are, however, small family companies and not large multinationals.
But is that good enough?
These are questions raised in the Seafood Barometer – which consists of a summary of tendencies and trends affecting the industry, while ultimately aiming to create debate and to develop the industry.
– The barometer is meant to “take the temperature” on the Norwegian seafood industry every other year. We are giving the industry a voice and we want to create debate, supplemented with PwC´s own analyses and perspectives.
– Our hope is that by highlighting topics in a different way, we are contributing to more value-creation within the industry, says Marte.
Sustainability is undoubtedly a major factor in this year's barometer influencing different aspects of the industry – including the new “promised land” of land-based aquaculture.
In PwC's Seafood Barometer 2021 you can read about the increasingly popular method gaining foothold in Norway and abroad.
– It is both difficult and very expensive to obtain sea licenses in Norway. You should look at other options if you want to increase your volumes. Many are therefore seeking their fortune on land where new licenses cost nothing.
– The reason for such expensive sea licenses is that there are environmental and biological challenges that need to be solved. Sustainability thus becomes a driver for more land-based projects.
In Norway there are plans for approximately 600,000 tonnes of salmon on land, amounting to almost half of all sea-based production in the country. And abroad? Over one million.
Marte and the rest of the seafood team at PwC have calculated that billions of Norwegian crowns (NOK) will be invested in land-based Norwegian-owned aquaculture projects abroad.
– What will happen to the brand “salmon from Norway” when you can get approximately the same salmon in many places around the world, asks Marte rhetorically.
The barometer raises similar questions: How will global land-based aquaculture projects affect Norway as a seafood nation? Is this an opportunity or a risk for both capital flight and reputation?
Before we end our chat with Marte we must look once more into the crystal ball:
What will the Norwegian seafood industry look like in 10 years, Marte?
– Well, I can't be too negative coming from a fish farming family and all, says Marte smiling, and offers a glimpse into the future:
More sustainable production with varied technology on both land and at sea, the return of cod aquaculture and a brand of “salmon from Norway” that is as strong as ever.
Time will show if Martes predictions will come to pass. What is certain is that the industry is heading into an exciting future.
Read all about it in PwC’s Seafood Barometer 2021.