The UK seafood market, now worth £2.67 billion, is up 5% year on year in value terms. This growth can be attributed to consumers choosing niche species such as pollock and seabass over more traditional varieties. The increasing diversity of consumer taste means that the catching sector can continue to fish sustainably for a wide variety of species.
Pollock, which has seen its sales increase by 171%, received rave reviews last year from both Gordon Ramsay and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall on their TV programmes. Seabass, a favourite of Mitch Tonks from Saturday Kitchen, has also seen sales rise by 31% in the last year.
"We can all eat fish with confidence knowing that efforts to promote sustainable choices and fisheries are really working."
Chef, fishmonger and restaurant owner Mitch Tonks
From, pilchards and sprats, popular in the South West, to langoustine in Scotland, and mussels and spider crab in Wales, all kinds of species are striking a chord with consumers, who appear to be looking for seafood that’s both local and sustainable. Squid, which is now appearing in UK waters, is also proving popular, with sales up 48% compared with 2007.
Phil MacMullen, Head of Environmental Responsibility at Seafish, adds: “The recent championing of sustainable seafood by celebrity chefs – and by retailers – has encouraged consumers to experiment with the lesser-known varieties in their area. This shows that consumers are becoming more aware of the importance of responsible sourcing. Choosing alternative species helps to ease the pressure on stocks of more traditional fish”
With retailers committed to providing a variety of species from sustainable sources, the UK seafood market has grown by 2% in volume terms compared to last year as consumers trawl the supermarket aisles for unfamiliar varieties.
Chef, fishmonger and restaurant owner Mitch Tonks says: "There is so much more willingness to try new species as the interest in seafood grows and people really discover how good it is and how easy it is to cook. This is great because we can all eat fish with confidence knowing that efforts to promote sustainable choices and fisheries are really working."