Q&A: Inger Larsson, Findus Nordic
By Nicki Holmyard, SeafoodSource contributing editor
02 May, 2012
Findus Nordic was recently put up for sale by owner Lion Capital. But, in March, it agreed a recapitalization plan instead. SeafoodSource caught up with Inger Larsson, sustainability director of Findus Nordic, to talk about the group’s performance since its creation in 2010 as well as its future.
Holmyard: Why was Findus Nordic set up as a separate entity?
Larsson: Jari Latvanen, our current CEO, oversaw the formation of the Findus Nordic market cluster in April 2011, which created a new focus on the Nordic countries and enabled our operations in Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark to work together as one player, to develop and drive the frozen food category across the region.
The Nordic market is very strong, and Findus is the No. 1 brand by revenue across all frozen markets. In Sweden, for instance, where Findus created the frozen food category in the 1940s, the overall market (for all food segments except ice-cream) has grown to over 200,000 tons of frozen food every year, and this remains our largest market in the region.
In contrast to the difficult food trading and business climate seen across Europe in the past year, the frozen food category performed well here.
What is the main trend for seafood in the Nordic region, and what is driving growth in the frozen seafood sector?
In general, we find that consumers are looking for inspiration with seafood. Many want to eat more seafood and our focus is to help them do this by making it easy to access and cook. We use taste and sustainability as the prime drivers, and our program for responsible seafood procurement, “Fish for Life,” is understood and appreciated by consumers.
What criteria do you use to ensure sustainability?
Fish for Life is all about giving consumers confidence that all our fish is responsibly sourced. Our objective is to have all our wild-caught fish Marine Stewardship Council-certified by the end of 2012, and we also support the new Aquaculture Stewardship Council standard. We believe third-part certification is an important tool for building trust in our consumers.
As director of sustainability, what does your role involve?
My job is to ensure that Findus sustainability work is in line with our overall vision for the company. This means ensuring that sustainability is an integral part of our business and that our collaborators understand our policies and strategies. This applies not just to fish sourcing but to all our raw materials and the way we produce and use them.
Nordic countries have long been a leader in sustainable seafood management. How important is sustainability as a concept for Nordic consumers and what do they understand by it?
Nordic consumers are very aware of the problems related to the sustainable management of seafood. Findus introduced the MSC-label in Sweden in 2003 with MSC-certified hoki from New Zealand. Since then, interest has grown and consumers are generally well informed, even if they are sometimes misinformed by public debate.
A prime example is cod. In Sweden we have cod from many different stocks, all with a different sustainable status, and it is not an easy task to communicate to consumers that all cod is not equal. Surely cod is cod? This is why we think that third-party certification is a good way to help the consumer choose.
However, communication about seafood sustainability and what certification programs stand for is a vital message in helping them to understand the issues. This is an area, I believe, where the industry and its stakeholders, including the media, can and should work together better to raise awareness, educate and build trust in consumers.
Do you anticipate any changes in seafood eating habits over the next 5 to 10 years?
I think that we will increase our fish consumption. Fish is good for your health, and it also has less impact on our climate than meat. Consumers are becoming increasingly aware about the problems with greenhouse gases and know that they can influence this through their eating habits. I also think that third-party certification will continue to be an important factor in giving confidence and trust to consumers and ultimately influence their buying and eating habits.
02 May, 2012