Brits switch fish buying habits to help endangered species

5 Sep 2011

A campaign to get shoppers to try fish caught from sustainable sources is proving a great success.

A campaign to get shoppers to try fish caught from sustainable sources is proving a great success.

Last year Tesco launched a training programme for its fishmongers to encourage and advise customers about trying new, less familar species of fish.

And it has led to major rises for:

-- Pouting fillets – sales up to 50 per cent of cod fillet sales
-- Whole sea bream – up 372 per cent
-- Whole sea bass – up 182 per cent in the last year
-- Whole sardines – up 50 per cent
-- Whole mackerel – 30 per cent up on last year

Said Tesco fish buying manager Andrew Farrell: “At Tesco we do all we can to try to take pressure off the most popular species of fish.

“We already sell around 40 different species on our fresh fish counters and our fishmongers are trained to encourage customers to try new species and give them cooking tips.

“As a result, we’ve seen a change in customer behaviour and a rise in sales of alternative species.”

Tesco also has a Season’s Best Programme where it promotes the best fresh fish of the season.

This again encourages customers to try something new, seasonal and fresh and has increased sales of more unusual species - like red gurnard, Megrim sole, Dover sole, octopus and squid.

-- Season’s Best 1 is currently up by 15.2 per cent - European hake
-- Season’s Best 2 is currently up by 20.4 per cent - gurnard
-- Season’s Best 3 is currently up by 77.7 per cent - Megrim sole
-- Whole mackerel is 30 per cent up on last year in terms of volume
-- Whole dab up by 100 per cent on last years as we did not previously stock this line
-- Whole sardines up by 90 per cent
-- Whole sea bream up by 40 per cent

These figures are based on the last 12 weeks compared to same period last year, in volume.

Tesco was recently congratulated by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall as part of Channel 4’s Fish Fight 2 for changes in its fish sourcing policies and for encouraging customers to try new species.

He has said of the supermarket’s increased pouting sales: “The fact that in the 400 stores where they are selling it, Tesco’s sales of pouting are now 50 per cent of their cod sales is brilliant news. It’s a highly underrated close relative of cod and just the kind of fish we should be eating more of.”

Added Tesco’s Andrew Farrell: “Pouting is a great alternative to cod. Launched at the beginning of the year, it has already reached 50 per cent of our cod fillet sales, taking the pressure off more popular species.

“It is a non-targeted species and is effectively a by-catch. Customers love it; they find it cheaper than cod and very tasty. It’s fished off the South West of Britain, supporting small, close-knit fishing communities.”