British shoppers stocking up cupboards and freezers before the UK entered lockdown caused a significant rise in seafood sales, according to research by the Sea for Yourself campaign, supported by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and non-departmental public body, Seafish.
Weekly volume sales grew by 55% with shoppers opting for a wide variety of products. Brits bought more than 100% more tinned fish like tuna and sardines over the same time period.
In the freezer aisles, frozen family favourites like fish cakes saw the biggest growth in popularity (89% growth), closely followed by frozen breaded products (82% growth) and fish fingers (79% growth).
The research also suggested that British shoppers were broadening horizons from traditionally popular species like cod, haddock, tuna and prawns. Sardines, which are rich in Vitamin B-12, saw a 100% growth in sales. The UK is lucky enough to have a huge variety of other species of seafood available to consumers, and positive news for the wider industry is that there was an average sales growth of 34.2%.
The spike in shoppers buying fish and shellfish correlates with the panic bulk buying of other supermarket goods. Sales experienced a dip towards pre-lockdown figures after the panic buying peak, but sales of seafood remain 4% higher than before. The biggest winner is ambient (often tinned) seafood where shoppers are buying 20% more than average.
As people are eating out less and cooking more, people are looking for inspiration on cooking fish with Google searches for seafood recipes increasing by 27%, then 61% week to week during lockdown.
Marcus Coleman, CEO at Sea for Yourself, commented: “The Great British public has always had a big appetite for seafood and it’s fantastic to see the passion for fish and shellfish returning during this period.
“As well as being a fantastic source of healthy nutrients and protein, seafood is delicious and very often simple to prepare. There are more than 100 different species of seafood caught in UK waters, and it’s great to see shoppers continuing to buy classic favourites like cod or haddock as well as broadening horizons to other species like herring, hake, sole and mussels.
“During lockdown, many of us will be aiming to expand our repertoire in the kitchen, which is why Sea for Yourself has published a wide range of free recipes to suit all abilities and all budgets at www.fishisthedish.co.uk.
“It’s encouraging to see any positive change in shoppers opting to purchase more seafood, but especially so during lockdown as many of our fish businesses can’t currently supply restaurants or export. We can all continue to support our national seafood industry, from sea to plate by continuing to buy, eat and enjoy the UK’s delicious and diverse seafood products.”