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Friday Fish

Around 25% of Britons have stopped eating fish, Callander McDowell suggests

October 6, 2010


Friday Fish
The latest monthly fish sales statistics from Nielsen for Seafish show that natural fresh fish sales have declined by 2.2% year on year. Whilst, sales figures are not an indication of consumption trends, they do give cause for concern, not least because a recent survey for canned fish brand, John West might suggest that British consumers are turning away from eating fish.

Reporting the survey ,The Daily Mail says that John West have found that one of the significant reasons why consumption has fallen is that the British public have forgone the tradition of eating fish on a Friday. The custom of eating fish on a Friday goes back to the Middle-Ages when the church banned eating meat at the end of the week. This was because warm blooded flesh was thought to stimulate carnal desires, which were not compatible with reflective prayer.

Unusually, the survey has largely avoided reporting percentage consumption and instead has converted the data to numbers of people. This does not make happy reading.

According to the survey 15.4 million Britons have stopped eating fish on a Friday and given the reasons they state, it must be assumed that for many, it is not just on Fridays that they no longer eat fish. Assuming a population of about 62 million, this means that around 25% of Britons have stopped eating fish.

The main reasons they give are that they are scared of choking on the bones (2.7 million), not liking to see the eyes (2.4 million), not knowing how to prepare and cook the fish (1.8 million) and incredibly, 400,000 have said that they can no longer eat fish and seafood after watching the Disney film ‘Finding Nemo’ because it would be like eating the loveable clownfish, which was the main character in the movie.

The survey found that just 13% of Britons still cooked a fish dish every Friday. That equates to around 8 million people. Certainly our own observations would indicate that Friday remains the most popular day for cooking fish. Thursdays and Fridays seem to be the most popular days at the fish counters in the supermarkets we visit. By comparison, the rest of the week appears relatively quiet.

Last month, the Guardian newspaper reported the outcome of another consumer survey which seems to confirm this declining interest in fish consumption. The survey conducted for Morrison’s supermarket found a general ignorance of matters piscine.

28% of those polled said that they didn’t know how to fillet fish but this is not of any surprise. We would suspect that most consumers never fillet fish but buy it ready filleted. However 25% said that they didn’t know how to cook it which would suggest that they never do so. Twenty per cent said that they didn’t like the taste.

Ten per cent of respondents managed to name three different fish whilst 2% couldn’t name even one. Three quarters of shoppers didn’t know that there were three classes of fish, white, oily and shellfish and nearly 40% didn’t appreciate that wild fish were seasonal.

According to the survey 15.4 million Britons have stopped eating fish on a Friday and given the reasons they state, it must be assumed that for many, it is not just on Fridays that they no longer eat fish. Assuming a population of about 62 million, this means that around 25% of Britons have stopped eating fish.

The main reasons they give are that they are scared of choking on the bones (2.7 million), not liking to see the eyes (2.4 million), not knowing how to prepare and cook the fish (1.8 million) and incredibly, 400,000 have said that they can no longer eat fish and seafood after watching the Disney film ‘Finding Nemo’ because it would be like eating the loveable clownfish, which was the main character in the movie.

The survey found that just 13% of Britons still cooked a fish dish every Friday. That equates to around 8 million people. Certainly our own observations would indicate that Friday remains the most popular day for cooking fish. Thursdays and Fridays seem to be the most popular days at the fish counters in the supermarkets we visit. By comparison, the rest of the week appears relatively quiet.

Last month, the Guardian newspaper reported the outcome of another consumer survey which seems to confirm this declining interest in fish consumption. The survey conducted for Morrison’s supermarket found a general ignorance of matters piscine.

28% of those polled said that they didn’t know how to fillet fish but this is not of any surprise. We would suspect that most consumers never fillet fish but buy it ready filleted. However 25% said that they didn’t know how to cook it which would suggest that they never do so. Twenty per cent said that they didn’t like the taste.

Ten per cent of respondents managed to name three different fish whilst 2% couldn’t name even one. Three quarters of shoppers didn’t know that there were three classes of fish, white, oily and shellfish and nearly 40% didn’t appreciate that wild fish were seasonal.
The above commentary is excerpted from reLAKSation 470 by Callander McDowell. Read more.

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