46th Congress of the European Regional Science Association: "Enlargement, Southern Europe and the Mediterranean", August 30th - September 3rd, 2006, Volos, Greece
Food markets change with increasing wealth and the globalization of the economy. WTO and EU are challenging countries to enhance lower level of national protection and regulation of markets, including the markets for agricultural foods. Thus, the producers of food are continuously exposed for competition. As an answer to this food producers in Norway have looked for different possibilities to keep up the level of production and profitability. To some degree producers have adapted to new markets by either introducing new products for a new set of customers, or by making changes in existing products to satisfy the customers preferences. Export of high quality sheep meat from Norway to Japan can be mentioned as an example of market innovations, one of the five types of innovations described by Schumpeter (1934). In later years we have seen a tendency for groups of customers paying more for food products of certain origin, taste, design or other qualities. Although the cooperatives still are dominant in food processing and marketing in Norway, there are now an increasing number of farmers working with market innovations outside the traditional channels. Possibilities for success might depend on factors as culture, price, design and more. Specialised knowledge in different professions seems to be relevant when handling production, processing and marketing. Questions raised in this paper are: Is there a connection between market innovation success and the farmer's ability to develop and transfer knowledge? How can we measure, understand and describe such processes?