The Arctic as a Food Producing Region – University of Copenhagen

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The Arctic as a Food Producing Region

Seaweed is an upcoming product from the Arctic. Photo: Rebekka Johanne Knudsen

In a collaboration between Norway, Canada, Iceland, Greenland, Denmark and the Faroese a group of researchers has set out to to assess the potential for increased production and added value of food from the Arctic.

A point of departure for the project is the notion that consumers generally prefer food that is healthy, with good taste and produced in a sustainable manner. And increasingly they prefer food with a unique story. Food from the Arctic may score high on all these properties, especially with marketing based on properties highlighting the characteristics of Arctic food.

Mapping and conditions for added value 

In this project, the researchers ask:

  • What is the status and what is the potential for various food production in the Arctic
  • What are the added value of these products when marketed by their special qualities and unique origin?
  • What conditions are important to further develop the Arctic as a food producing region?
  1. How can production be increased and how can new species and products be developed?
  2. How are the market conditions for adding value or branding the “Arctic” at local, national and international markets?
  3. What role does industry structure, infrastructure and organization of different value chains and industry policy play for the potential development?

Cod fried on a camp fire - pure quality food from the Arctic. Photo: Rebekka Johanne Knudsen

Same same - but different: Comparative studies of food production 

Within the region there is considerable variation in both production and capabilities. Fisheries and aquaculture are often large-scale and export-oriented, while agriculture are quite marginal compared to farming in more favorable locations further south. Nevertheless all industries are producing both commodities and high value niche products.

A comparative project involving the Arctic states can provide useful insight into common challenges as well as examples of successful product developments of food/species. Based on knowledge of the present production and established “Arctic” niche products the project will explore and describe possible paths of development for arctic food production. The aim is to identify conditions for increased production, new species and last but not least the potential for added value of food from the Arctic. Common case studies in all the arctic countries will strengthen the collaboration between areas and industries, create extensive networks and increase knowledge transfer.

A focus on the primary industries

The project focuses on the primary industries; fisheries, aquaculture and agriculture, in addition to herding and gathering which is significant in some areas. A goal is to outline a range of realistic scenarios of future development, based on market knowledge, commercial interest of the industry and their structure and public policy. Focus will be on local and regional industrial development.

As such, the project can contribute to strengthen food production in the Arctic.

Redfish from Greenland. Photo: Minik Rosing