Norwegian stockfish is a part of Nigerian food culture
Nigeria is Norway´s second largest market for stockfish and the trade between the two nations begun already in the 19th century. The Norwegian stockfish has throughout the years obtained an important role in Nigerian food culture, and is a natural choice for both festive occasions and on the dinner table for millions of Nigerians. As with other conventional products, many in the younger generations does not know how to prepare the fish, so how to prepare traditional and new recipes with both stockfish and other species will be an important focus during the festival. The festival programme will for example feature local restaurants and Norwegian producers, as well as a recipe competition beforehand.
Appealing to the younger generation
Nigeria, with its population of almost 200 million people, has an average age of 18 years and the younger generations are very active on social media. Both the festival and the recipe competition is directed at a younger audience, and the idea is to spike their interests through social media and local influencers. The festival itself will be held centrally in Lagos on the 19th of October, and will be open to the public. Drawing on inspiration from stockfish-festivals in Italy, the idea is to create a social venue where Nigerians and Norwegian exporters can meet. Last year, the Norwegian Seafood Council aired a documentary about stockfish on local Nigerian TV, but this festival is the first event in this region where the focus is interaction between importers and exporters.
Easier market access and more stability
Much of the work done by the Norwegian Seafood Council in Nigeria has up until now focused on market access for Norwegian exporters, in regards to import duty clarifications and regulatory requirements. Export of seafood from Norway to Nigeria declined drastically when the Nigerian economy suffered from lower oil-prices. The country introduced a number of import restrictions and devaluated the local currency as a result of this. The ramification of this was clearly evident in the export numbers. In 2014 for example, the export of stockfish and dried cod heads to Nigeria had a value of 428 million NOK, while in 2016 this number was reduced to 160 million. Through close cooperation with the Norwegian embassy in Nigeria, customs and the Ministry of food and fisheries, the Norwegian Seafood Council has worked towards a more stable market access for exporters of Norwegian seafood. This has yielded good results, and in 2017 over 9000 tonnes of dried fish products was imported in Nigeria. Over 7 700 tonnes was dried fish heads, an increase of almost 3 000 tonnes from the previous year.
In relations to the festival, the Norwegian Seafood Council will hold a seminar for Norwegian and Nigerian actors to create connections across borders. The festival and the seminar will be in Lagos from the 18th to the 20th of October.