Developing market-oriented and value-added products for Irish seafood SMEs

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McKenzie, Elizabeth
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University College Cork
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The fisheries sector in Ireland is worth approximately €1.15 billion a year and is characterised by a high proportion of small and medium enterprises (SMEs). A strong market orientation and a consumer driven new product development (NPD) process are critical NPD success factors. Successful NPD requires knowledge exchange between the food related organisations, supply chain partners and the consumer. The Irish seafood industry lacks a market-oriented approach to its NPD activities. The Irish seafood industry is not in a position to capitalise on global trends as there are too many SMEs working in isolation. As a result, there is a lack of coordination and cooperation between supplier, producers and a lack of connection with the consumer and customer. This study aims to examine the use of consumer insights in the development by SMEs, of more sustainable and value-added, new seafood product concepts. Including products with unfamiliar ingredients, this process aims to increase consumer acceptance. The methodology employed was both qualitative and quantitative. Interviews with seafood SMEs and focus groups, conjoint questionnaire and sensory acceptability testing with consumers of seafood were utilised. The interviews conducted with Irish seafood related SMEs suggest that innovation and data collection is occurring, however, it is not being captured and utilised correctly in order to ensure successful product development and ultimately competitive advantage. If this innovation, data and other information gathered is managed correctly, in a formal process, then there is a significant opportunity for Irish seafood SMEs to capitalise on the value-added market. This research highlights appropriate methods of gathering and managing customer insights during the NPD process, specifically the initial stages and applying it to the development of a seafood concept that uses a species of fish, which is currently unavailable on the Irish market, and unfamiliar to consumers i.e. boarfish, via advanced concept optimisation research techniques. These insights through conjoint analysis allowed for the analysis of the products attributes and provided an insightful understanding of customer`s choice motives, which assists organisations in the process of market segmentation and new product design of new seafood products. The research revealed that consumer integration techniques which include the consumer at the early stages of the NPD process can increase consumer acceptance of new seafood products; including those that contain unfamiliar ingredients without a significant strain on the resources of SMEs.
Seafood , SMEs , Food product development , Market orientation
McKenzie, E. 2019. Developing market-oriented and value-added products for Irish seafood SMEs. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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