Despite economy, product innovation thrives
By Lindsey Partos, SeafoodSource contributing editor, reporting from Paris
18 January, 2010
European and Russian seafood companies are investing in product innovation to beat the economic downturn, with new product launches in 2009 a wisp higher than in 2008.
According to market trackers Mintel, 1,626 seafood products were introduced to the European and Russian markets last year, compared to 1,442 the previous year.
The emerging economies of Ukraine and Russia were particularly active. According to Mintel, 106 new seafood products hit the Ukraine market in 2009, compared to zero in 2008. In Russia, seafood product launches quadrupled from 2008 to 2009 — 88 new seafood products hit Russian shelves last year, up from just 20 the previous year.
Italy also witnessed considerable growth, climbing from 59 new seafood products in 2008 to 142 in 2009, while the Netherlands introduced 56 seafood products in 2008 and 84 in 2009. Even though it was hit hard by the global economic downturn, Spain saw 218 new seafood products last year, up from 195 the previous year.
In fact, out of the 10 countries Mintel researched, only four — Greece, Austria, Germany and France — experienced a drop in seafood product launches, while the United Kingdom remained stagnant.
Across the food industry, convenience remains popular, with “microwaveable” the leading claim on new meat products, including seafood. “Convenient packs focused on being re-sealable, while on-the-go formats were niche but have growth potential,” said Mintel.
Sourcing and authenticity are also “important” trends among new meat products, as quality “is often measured by where and how [the product] is sourced,” noted Mintel.
Mintel also cited the rise in eco-friendly packaging as a key trend, as more food companies use recycled materials or encourage consumers to recycle containers.
France’s Alliance Oceane was among the food companies Mintel highlighted in its report. Alliance Oceane reformulated its Coraya brand of crabsticks with mayonnaise dip, which is labeled as rich in omega-3 fatty acids and high in protein.
“The product primarily stands out since it comes with a promotional cooling bag, which can be used not only to store the chilled crabsticks but can be kept and reused long after the crabsticks have been consumed,” said Mintel.
As for growth opportunities, Mintel said, “there is room for companies to better flag recipe suggestions on-pack to appeal to the many consumers who want to expand their meal repertoire but are not confident about their cooking skills when it comes to trying new recipes or dishes.”
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18 January, 2010