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Seafish and AHDB Potatoes debut biggest ever study on fish and chips - and size really does matter

Article Date: 2016-08-19


A third of consumers would eat fish and chips more often if there was a more varied selection of portion sizes available, according to new research from Seafish and AHDB Potatoes.

The ground-breaking 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 want, providing unique insight into consumers’ habits and preferences and giving industry access to the latest nutritional analysis on takeaway fish and chips.

The aim of the campaign is to arm outlets with the tools they need to modernise their offering in line with the latest consumer preferences on variety and nutrition, directly combating the declining sales the sector has witnessed since 2010, which were highlighted by Seafish’s 2015 report, Fish and Chips in Foodservice.

The Seafish/AHDB Potatoes research, which is the largest of its kind ever conducted, also 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 to the invaluable 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 study is also informed by a nutritional composition analysis of over 400 different ‘parameters’ of fish and chips, including chip size, batter thickness, frying medium, cooking temperature and cooking time.

These findings will be used to support and advise the industry on how to meet the evolving demands of consumers and ensure the nation’s favourite takeaway is enjoyed for years to come.

As part of the Enjoy Fish & Chips campaign, Seafish and AHDB Potatoes have created a web hub and produced a summary report to 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 will host 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; giveaways and competitions and a ‘perfect serve’ tool that demonstrates the cost savings outlets can make by adapting their portion sizes to suit their business.

Seafish and AHDB Potatoes, along with industry partners, are also working together to come up with recommendations for standard small, medium, large and extra-large portions sizes which 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 means the industry can easily communicate nutritional information to their customers.

Tom Pickerell, Technical Director at Seafish commented: "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 & chips are unhealthy, widen loyal customer bases, boost profitability and reduce waste.”

Rob Clayton, Sector Strategy Director at AHDB Potatoes added: "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. It means that fish and chip businesses are selling over £17,000 worth of shared portions every year. This could be a missed opportunity.Rather than sell one big serving, there’s a chance here to sell two smaller portions.”

From the 11 of September you can visit the Enjoy Fish & Chips web hub to download the full report and get more information on the research and how it can help your business.

Fish Friers