Salmon leaps ahead of tuna as UK’s favourite fish

Salmon is overtaking tuna as the UK's favourite dinner table fish. Picture: Julie Bull
Salmon is overtaking tuna as the UK's favourite dinner table fish. Picture: Julie Bull
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SALMON is set to topple tuna as the favourite fish on Britain’s dinner tables, according to a new report yesterday.

For health-conscious shoppers have shown a growing appetite for salmon with sales soaring in the wake of the launch of price cuts by leading High Street supermarkets which have made it more affordable.

Industry experts say that salmon has been challenging tuna’s dominance for some time but it is now expected to leap ahead by the end of the year.

And the success of salmon comes as the latest research shows that families are increasingly choosing fish dishes at mealtimes with demand outpacing meat and poultry alternatives.

Trade magazine The Grocer said: “The big news in fish this year is that salmon is set to displace tuna as the UK’s favourite fish.

“Fresh fish is flying. Despite being one of the pricier proteins, it has continued to outperform meat and poultry over the past year, with strong value growth in a deflationary market.”

The magazine said that total fresh fish sales rose 3.6 per cent to £1.68 billion in the 52 weeks to 17 August with volumes up 1.6 per cent and average prices up 2 per cent.

Richard Watson, market analyst for seafood authority Seafish says he expects salmon volumes to overtake tuna by the end of the year.

He told The Grocer: “ Tuna is currently ranked number one in retail by volume but has experienced significant decline. Tuna has been hit hard by rising energy and raw material costs driving inflation and sustainability issues hitting the news. “

In contrast, salmon is perceived as healthier and more sustainable, with increased deals making it more affordable. Over 60 per cent of salmon is still sold natural or smoked - with both benefitting from heavy deals in the past year.

Mr Watson said the fresh fish category has enjoyed consistent growth since the recession despite average prices rising 20 per cent. He attributes this growth to shoppers’ perception that fresh fish is ‘high quality and healthy’ offering value for money despite rising prices

Mr Watson said that smoked salmon was the driving force behind the 6per cent value growth and 4.5per cent volume growth for chilled smoked fish this year. Natural salmon sales significantly outpaced the wider market with value up 3per cent and volumes up 9per cent as fresh cod, haddock and tuna sank.

Salmon is even making headway in the tuna-dominated ambient aisles with branded red salmon sales showing double digit growth on the back of price promotions and in-store activity from volume leader Princes.

Neil Brownbill, Princes marketing director told The Grocer: “Overall average price has been reduced by 12per cent year on year which has seen over £2million more spend from new shoppers.”

Yvonne Adam, marketing director at Young’s Seafood agreed that health has been a major driver for fresh fish. “Consumers have a strong awareness that chilled fish is a source of healthy protein and good for you,“ she said. “It is high in protein, low in fat, quick to cook and tastes delicious.“

Norwegian Seafood Council UK director Jack Robert Moller says the UK is now Europe’s biggest growth market for farmed salmon helping attract more shoppers into the wider category. “Salmon is very important to recruiting new seafood customers.”

Added-value is the fastest growing segment for salmon thanks to the likes of the Saucy Fish Co, The Harbour Salmon Co and Funky Fish.

The Grocer said that salmon is now taking freezers by storm. JCS Fish says its BigFish brand of frozen salmon fillets with marinades achieved 10per cent growth in the past year, defying the downturn of frozen fish.

JCS Fish founder Andrew Coulbeck told the magazine: “Salmon is much loved but many are still put off by the idea of handling and preparing fish. BigFish makes the most of the freezer with a convenient format that cooks with minimum preparation.”