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Fish & Chip Research

Seafish and AHDB Potatoes, with the support of other leading industry sector stakeholders, have undertaken a comprehensive programme of research, investigating the nutritional make-up of fish and chips, the difference in portion sizes across Britain, and seeking insight from consumers as to their preferences when buying and eating fish and chips. The study kicks off a new fish and chip industry campaign called Enjoy Fish and Chips, designed to help fish and chip providers understand what their customers really want

Competition for takeaway food on the high street is rife. Gone are the halcyon days when the fish and chips industry enjoyed high street domination; today there has never been a wider choice – one that continues to increase – for people who want to grab their food and go.

To survive in this era of multiple low-cost options on every corner and combat the declining sales the sector has witnessed since 2010 – which were highlighted by Seafish’s 2015 report, Fish and Chips in Foodservice – the industry needs to adapt and offer what people want. The aim of the recent research is to enable fish and chip shop operators to modernise their offering by making informed decisions concerning the nutritional value of fish and chips and for them to consider the business growth opportunities that exist as a result of such consumer insight.

Fish and Chips portions matterPortion sizes

The Seafish/AHDB Potatoes research, which is the largest of its kind ever conducted, discovered a notable disparity in standard portion sizes served across the industry by comparing the fish and chips offered at over 600 businesses throughout the UK. In addition, the research reveals that a third of consumers would eat fish and chips more often if operators were to offer a more varied selection of portion sizes.

Seafish and AHDB Potatoes, along with industry partners, are working together to come up with recommendations for standard small, medium, large and extra-large portions sizes that the takeaway fish and chip industry could use. This would bring it in line with other fast food industries, which already use standard portion sizes, and would mean the industry could easily communicate nutritional information to its customers.

Healthy options

In addition to the insight into portion sizes, the findings reveal health-conscious consumers want more readily available nutritional information and a wider selection of meal options. Three out of every four people (72%) surveyed said they would like their fish and chips to be cooked in a way that lowered the saturated fat content of the finished dish.

The nutritional composition element of the research involved the preparation and cooking of more than 400 fish and chips (and mushy peas) samples using a wide variety of criteria such as chip size, batter thickness, frying medium, cooking temperature and cooking time in order to provide a substantial and robust base level of samples for subsequent nutritional analysis. The nutritional analysis looked at elements such as:

  • PROXIMATES - Protein, fat, energy (kcal and kJ), cholesterol
  • CARBOHYDRATES
  • FIBRE
  • FATTY ACIDS
  • INORGANICS - Such as salt
  • VITAMINS AND MINERALS

The nutritional analysis also included assessments of acrylamide and residual levels of SO2 in cooked chips.

Tom PickerellChange is crucial

Tom Pickerell, Technical Director at Seafish comments: “We are excited by the opportunities this report and our campaign brings and we stand ready to support businesses in the changes they may want to make. Fish and chip outlets serve their communities with tasty, nutritious, convenient, good value for money food. However, it must evolve with changing consumer preferences to remain relevant, otherwise it is in danger of falling behind. Other takeaway providers and foodservice outlets offer standard portions and lighter meal options at different times of the day, for example.

“This project has never been about telling businesses how to operate, but the results highlight the opportunities where some changes could have a positive impact on the industry. Seafish, AHDB Potatoes and our project partners want to help businesses understand those simple changes that are available to help debunk the idea that fish and chips are unhealthy, widen loyal customer bases, boost profitability and reduce waste.”

Access research insight

As part of the Enjoy Fish & Chips campaign, Seafish and AHDB Potatoes have created a web hub (www.enjoyfishandchips.co.uk) and produced a summary report to both help the industry easily digest the wealth of information available and provide guidance and tips on how shops can use the data to their advantage.

Alongside the research results, the Enjoy Fish & Chips website hosts a variety of online resources, including downloadable marketing materials, tips and advice on how to manage portion sizes, implement best practise cooking methods and display nutritional advice effectively. The site also has giveaways, competitions and a ‘perfect serve’ tool that demonstrates the cost savings outlets can make by adapting their portion sizes to suit their business.

Rob Clayton, Sector Strategy Director at AHDB Potatoes urges operators to visit the site: “This research is the most comprehensive piece of insight into the fish and chip industry ever produced. It is full of valuable information that can help businesses make simple changes that will make a huge difference to their bottom line.

“A great example is the finding that shows 15% of consumers have said their portion size is ideal because they share their chips with others. This means that fish and chip businesses are selling over £17,000 worth of shared portions every year, which could be a missed opportunity. Rather than selling one big serving, there’s a chance here to sell two smaller portions.”

Visit www.enjoyfishandchips.co.uk to download the full report and get more information on the research and how it can help your business.

Seafish was founded in 1981 by an Act of Parliament and aims to support all sectors of the seafood industry for a sustainable, profitable future. It is the only panindustry body offering services to all parts of the industry, from the start of the supply chain at catching and aquaculture; through processing, importers, exporters and distributors of seafood right through to restaurants and retailers. www.seafish.org

AHDB is a statutory levy board, funded by farmers, growers and others in the supply chain. Its purpose is to equip levy payers with independent, evidencebased information and tools to grow, become more competitive and sustainable. Established in 2008 and classified as a Non-Departmental Public Body, it supports the following industries: meat and livestock (cattle, sheep and pigs) in England; horticulture, milk and potatoes in Great Britain; and cereals and oilseeds in the UK. AHDB’s remit covers 75% of total UK agricultural output. www.ahdb.org.uk

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