Supermarket Perimeter - May 2020 - 69

NORWEGIAN STEELHEAD TROUT, uniquely raised
in a combination of salt water from the sea and fresh
water from the country's fjord-fed rivers, is steadily
gaining popularity in the United States, said Egil
Ove Sundheim, US director for the Tromso-based
Norwegian Seafood Council.
It's still a small market. Norwegian fisheries
produce about 60,000 to 80,000 metric tons of
steelhead per year. That's compared to about 1.2
million metric tons of salmon.
But it is growing, Sundheim said. The salt/
freshwater mix helps give Norwegian steelhead a
unique value proposition in the United States market,
which also contains steelhead from the United States,
Canada and Chile.
Norwegian fish is characterized by a deep red
color and fat marbling that delivers juicy meat and a
unique mouthfeel, Sundheim said.
"The color is deeper red than salmon - it's very
pleasing to the eye," he said. "And it's very moist
when you cook it. If you cook it a little too long, it's
very forgiving."
That's a good fit for Americans, who, on average,
tend to worry more than people from other
countries about under-cooking fish, he added.

COVID's impact

SEAFOOD FROM NORWAY, RUSHING WATERS

The entire industry has felt the blow of COVID-19,
said Peter Fritsch, president of Palmyra, Wisconsinbased Rushing Waters Fisheries.
"There is no way to plan or make changes fast
enough when you lose all restaurant business over
night," Fritsch said. "The run on toilet paper and
bread unfortunately did not include rainbow trout.
We'll wait to see what the 'new normal' is after we're
able to hit the streets again."
One bright spot: Rushing Waters' online orders
have increased about 200%.
Rushing Waters is unveiling new packaging that
will better communicate to the customer why they
should choose the company's product, Fritsch said.
"This rollout will be much different from others as
we drill down and really focus on the basics of what
powers our fish."
Additional details of the packaging changes
are imminent, he said. The changes are in line
with Rushing Waters' commitment to educating
its customers about its farm and how trout on it
are raised.
With other narratives emerging in the marketplace,
telling that story is more important than ever,
he added.
"There has been a lot of advancement in RAS
(recirculating aquaculture systems) in the news and

their fish are hitting the market," Fritsch said. "These
indoor RAS farms are doing a great job telling their
story about being 100% contained and having low
environmental discharges."
As a result, he added, Rushing Waters is now
charged with retelling its own story, complete with
how aquatic weeds act as natural filters and how
aquatic insects are available as snacks 24/7 to
its trout.
Oh, and there's one more important thing.
"They're raised in nature with access to
the environment - including the sun."
Overall demand hasn't changed much in
the past year, Fritsch said.
"It seems that as many chefs add it to
the menu as take it off. Our retail partners are
very consistent overall, with a few promotions
thrown in."

A salmon alternative
Because of its large size, compared to other trout,
and its red color, Norwegian steelhead is typically
marketed as an alternative to salmon.
At Costco and Wegmans stores in the United
States, for instance, the product is typically
merchandised with salmon and considered part
of that category, Sundheim said. For salmon fans,
it provides a slightly different flavor and mouthfeel
experience.
"With many dishes, you can use salmon and
steelhead interchangeably," he said. "The salmon
category has evolved. As steelhead is becoming
more available, its lends itself well to fine dining, and
fine dining gets access to a new species. It creates an
interesting pocket in the market."
And, of course, what starts in fine dining often
works its way into other channels, like retail grocery.
Norwegian steelhead is typically marketed in US
grocery stores as whole filets or portions, Sundheim
said. Very little is marketed whole in traditional stores,
though there is a thriving niche market in New York
and other markets among Jewish communities where
whole steelhead is desired for certain miles.
A growth market in the United States within the
Norwegian steelhead category, Sundheim said,
is sushi. Many European and Asian countries are
already on the steelhead sushi bandwagon, he said.
Some US sushi restaurants are on board, too, he
added, and it's likely only a matter of time before
a Hissho or another grocery instore sushi provider
begins adding Norwegian steelhead product to its
mix. That same marbling that makes Norwegian
steelhead a forgiving fish when overcooked also
lends itself to raw consumption.
supermarketperimeter.com

SP_May20.indb 69

Diversification is key to
growing demand for trout,
which is still under the radar
for many consumers.

MAY 2020 - 69

5/5/2020 4:11:24 PM


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