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Seafish Say Consumers Give Flatfish the Thumbs Up

UK - Although its one of the most prolific fish in our waters dab is only now making a name for itself as a tasty fish to eat, according to new statistics from Seafish, the authority on seafood.

The flatfish, which can be found in waters around most of the UK, has historically been passed over in favour for larger flatfish, such as sole or plaice, but recently retail sales have rocketed – up 47% since last year.

Seafish Head of Environmental Responsibility, Philip MacMullen, says the uptake in this small but tasty fish falls in line with other research, highlighting that consumers are more willing to try a wider range of species, rather than focusing on traditional species, such as cod and haddock.

“Most people haven’t heard of dab and that’s a shame as it is very good eating and similar to sole and plaice – just a bit smaller. It’s encouraging that it is now being introduced into supermarkets and that people are willing to give it a try.

“The increasing diversity of consumer taste means that the catching sector can continue to fish sustainably for a wide variety of species.”

Marks & Spencer fish buyer, Lesley Saunders, comments: "At M&S we are seeing sales of dab up by 50% compared to last year. We have helped customers discover that dab is a great value fresh fish which makes a delicious, healthy and ethical choice. It is a good alternative to cod and it's fantastic to see shoppers becoming more adventurous in the type of fish they eat."

The recent championing of fish such as dab, pollack and squid by celebrity chefs including Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Rick Stein – and by retailers – has encouraged consumers to experiment with the lesser-known varieties.

Dab was also recently highlighted as a “fish to eat” by the Marine Conservation Society due to its excellent sustainability credentials.

“Dab is very underexploited,” continues Phil. “Next to sandeels, it is the most abundant species in the North Sea. There is certainly the potential for its market to be further developed.”