Another day, another headline... but why is the nation’s favourite always in the firing line?
Article Date: 2019-06-18
Attribution: Malcolm Large, Executive Director, FASFA
Yesterday I read with interest the latest from the Daily Mail on why fish and chips is in peril (once again!). Indeed, it would be easy to think that the days of enjoying our iconic dish are numbered if several recent headlines are to be believed – but, once again, such coverage is misleading. This begs the question; why does it always seem to be fish and chips in the spotlight, and why always with such a negative slant when in fact the story is actually exceptionally positive?
To bring some facts and clarity to the issue, it’s important to highlight that cod and haddock fisheries and stocks are subject to careful and rigorous management and scrutiny to ensure their continued health and sustainability. This is an issue upon which all partners within the supply chain are united and where we see some of the strongest collaborative work in bringing together science and industry to achieve a shared goal. Far from operating at an arm’s length from the scientific community, the commercial fishing industry work hand in glove with them.
Whilst I am sure that the study cited has drawn many interesting conclusions, its findings reference marine life in its broadest, global terms, so to focus on fish and chips purchased the British high street seems something of a tenuous link. I suppose it is a testament to the country’s love for our iconic dish that it appears time and again on the back of such articles, as it is bound to garner a strong reaction from readers - but without appropriate context this can be unhelpful.
Another example of this is recent coverage of fish and chips and the UK’s exit from the EU. Once again, fish and chips were peddled out as a much-loved family favourite that was at risk when, in fact, most of the cod and haddock we consume as a nation is sourced from sustainable waters outside the EU. Again, when we questioned why, we came to the conclusion that it’s the mass, enduring popularity of fish and chips that makes it such an attractive target.
In recent months we have had headlines about obesity and fish and chips, Brexit and fish and chips, price hikes and fish and chips – and the list goes on. In fact, the industry has never worked harder to supply the consumer with the highest standards in quality and sustainability, whilst navigating complex supply chains in a competitive marketplace but that is seldom reflected.
There are a great many positive stories to tell about the fish and chip industry and many reasons why it remains such an important dish for UK consumers. Imagine a few more headlines that reflect this, now wouldn’t that be a refreshing change?