Nordic fisheries at a crossroad

Johan Hultman, Filippa Säwe, Pekka Salmi & Jesper Manniche (2018)

Nordic Council of Ministers, Nordic Council of Ministers Secretariat, Arbejdsgruppen for Fiskerisamarbeidet (AG-Fisk). Copenhagen: Nordisk Ministerråd

Abstract. Nordic fisheries at a crossroad explores how Nordic small-scale fisheries can develop to promote high value creation and product specialization. By looking at recent developments among small-scale but land-based food producers we suggest specialization and dedication as the main development strategies. The central notion is to break away from the price-competitive globalised fish markets and develop new products or distribution models. To succeed in this, there is a need for substantive and coordinated efforts to bridge the gap between conventional logics and the new development logics, between supply and demand. The vision should be to develop viable and composite markets for high quality and specialty fish products through dedication and specialization. Markets that go beyond the local and reach supermarkets and consumers on a national and international scale.

Excerpt: “An important notion in the agro-food research regarding how to understand the ongoing market restructuring processes is the “quality turn” (Goodman 2003; Harvey et al. 2004). The quality turn describes the shift in quality factors that are demanded by consumers and targeted by producers such as on one side (low) price, standardization and uniformity or on the other exclusive, special and composite dimensions of products such as “organic” and “fair-trade”.
In order to explain and describe such processes of diversification on food markets, several agro-food scholars have also applied convention theory, i.e. models to explain the social construction of the “conventions of quality” that define the functioning of markets for goods and services. Convention theory emphasizes the fact that the functioning and governing principles of any market – even markets for highly standardized and homogenized products – are defined by a set of conventions, constructed and justified through broader social and cultural discourses and practices. Some of these conventions regard the specific product qualities that producers supply and customers demand and are perceived as important for the transaction. […]
Among the many existing theoretical approaches, the Worlds of Production (WOP) model of Storper and Salais (1997) has especially been applied within agro-food studies in order to describe the implications of operating on the basis of alternative quality conventions. In short, the model outlines four different “production worlds” or action frameworks that companies can operate in, which are characterized by varying conditions for competition and use of technology, labour and knowledge.
In a business development perspective, which is in focus here, the model is useful because it clarifies the coexistence and varying logics of very different forms of production and markets, which also may be highly relevant for differentiated policy approaches. The model is particularly useful when applied in a dynamic perspective, as it not only indicates four possible production worlds for companies, but also indicate different directions and opportunities for how companies can develop and differentiate themselves from their competitors.” (p. 29 & 30)

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