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New trend in Japan and South Korea for convenience mackerel products. There is a new trend for consumers in Japan and South Korea to look for ‘convenience’ in the mackerel products they purchase, according to the Norwegian Seafood Council.

Gunvar L. Wie, from the Norwegian Seafood Council’s Japan and South Korea Trade Mission, says: “Increased attention to health and nutrition, sustainability and the origin of seafood are trends that are evident in both Japan and South Korea. This is something that the retail chains have been concerned about and we see that this is starting to resonate with consumers. In addition, customers want convenience, which has led to large increases in demand for and supply of different types of mackerel products. The market is quite stratified and consumers can choose raw, fried, salted, boxed and miso-marinated, to name a few of the varieties on offer.

“In recent years, the mackerel has moved from traditional forms to becoming popular for “ready to heat” or “ready to eat”, especially among young people. This also means that people want more ready-made mackerel products than the ranges we offer today, and consumption is changing somewhat in South Korea as it has increases in Japan.”

Meanwhile, Norway exported 81,000 tonnes of mackerel to global markets with a value of NOK 1.4 billion in the first half of 2019. This is an increase of 5 per cent, while the value increased by NOK 384 million or 38 per cent. China, South Korea and Japan were the largest markets for Norwegian mackerel in the first half.

“Despite reduced quotas, we see growth in mackerel exports from Norway. The fear of the consequences around Brexit has meant that British fishermen have started earlier this year, and this has resulted in increased landings in Norway. Expectations of low supply of mackerel have given rise to higher prices and so we have seen the strongest mackerel half-year ever,” says Tom-Jørgen of the Norwegian Seafood Council.

For herring, exported 147,000 tonnes with a value of NOK 1.3 billion in the first half of 2019. This volume is at the same level as in 2018, while the value of herring exports has increased by NOK 35 million or 3 per cent. Poland, Lithuania and Egypt were the main markets for Norwegian herring in the first half of 2019.

“The first six months have seen an increase in exports of frozen whole herring, while we see a decrease in exports of fillets. The reason for the reduction in fillet exports is reduced demand from Germany after they bought a lot of herring last fall. Although the volumes of frozen herring have increased, prices have remained stable. Expectations of lower supply can help to explain this,” says Tom-Jørgen Gangsø.

In June, Norway exported 19,000 tonnes of herring to a value of NOK 229 million. This is a decrease in volume of 43 per cent, while the value of exports fell by NOK 48 million or 17 per cent.