Norwegian speciality meat producers have signed their first contracts for export of the sliced cured mutton known locally as fenalår. The traditional thinly sliced meat is believed to have been around since Viking times, and will now turn up in some exclusive delicatessens and restaurants.
“Norway has some unique foods, and these contracts are proof that we can win entry into markets willing to pay for it,” Sylvi Listhaug, the government minister in charge of agriculture and food, said Monday.
The contracts signed with French and Swiss wholesalers in Paris on Friday are a breakthrough in Listhaug’s and Norway’s small speciality producers’ efforts to compete in the high-end of the food market internationally. Listhaug claimed she’d been convinced it was possible for a long time, and was pleased that the two small Norwegian producers Tind and Bjorli along with Norway’s dominant meat producer Nortura had succeeded in marketing a new export product.
Two French firms will sell the mature fenalår in Paris, the delicatessen Bon Marché and Restaurant 6 New York. Importers Covin of Switzerland and Baud of France have signed the contracts with Tind, Bjorli and Nortura.
“Fenalår from Norway” will be the geographically protected name for the product, based on Norway’s long history of hanging mutton legs to dry in mountain air to preserve meat for use during the winter. Norway’s agricultural ministry claimed the fenalår tradition, along with the production of other meats that are salted, dried and stored, has to do with Norway’s topography and a climate that’s well-suited to drying meat.
“These producers have achieved some good marketing success,” said Listhaug after taking part in the contract signing in Paris. “Frenchmen understand the value of national food treasures, they have many themselves. Now it’s just for other Norwegian producers to follow the example of ‘Fenalår from Norway.'”