Is product innovation waning in Europe?


Lindsey Partos, SeafoodSource contributing editor, reporting from Paris

Published on
September 14, 2009

The number of new seafood products to hit European markets is on pace to drop in 2009, suggesting investment in innovation may be tapering off amid a challenging economic climate.

Figures obtained by SeafoodSource from market research firm Mintel reveal that in 2008 a total of 1,447 seafood products were launched in Europe last year. So far this year, 1,095 seafood products have been launched.

Some marketing experts assert that when the economic climate worsens, investment in innovation is increasingly necessary to combat the downturn and retain market share. But set against the backdrop of a tough economic situation, the decision to shoulder the considerable costs involved in new product development will not come easily.

What’s more, one out of every two food and drink products to hit European shelves are actually removed within two years, according to data from French market research firm XTC.

Riding the health wave washing over the entire food industry, seafood companies continue to promote their products’ health benefits. But even here the number of new items to reach shelves has dipped.

According to NPD data reported by Mintel, 226 seafood products with a health claim have reached European shelves so far this year, compared to 294 during the same period last year.

In Spain, Pescanova released Fish-Shaped Breaded Hake (Peskitos Merluza Empanada) under the Pescanova brand. Targeted at children, Pescanova has reformulated the product to be oven-prepared, and to contain 30 percent less fat. The product has also been repackaged in a newly designed 400-gram package containing 10 pieces.

In Greece, Bolton released Natural Tuna under the Rio Mare Natura brand. New to the Rio Mare Natura range is dolphin-safe Natural Tuna. This product, which claims to offer a “true maritime aroma” with less than 1 percent fat, retails in a package of four 80-gram cans.

Norfresh released Norwegian Salmon Cakes with Tarragon under the Norfresh brand to UK markets. The firm claims the salmon cakes are low in fat and carbohydrates, and free from gluten and lactose. The product is made with 100 percent sustainably sourced and MSC-certified fish. “It is also high in proteins, rich in omega-3 and simple to prepare,” said the company.

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