Seafood focus: Think global, fish local

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Related tags: Publican food report, Seafood

Pub food classics are classic for a reason - customers love them and expect to find them on the menu. The annual Publican Food Report survey of the...

Pub food classics are classic for a reason - customers love them and expect to find them on the menu.

The annual Publican Food Report s​urvey of the trade shows that 76 per cent of pubs describe their menu as traditional British and 70 per cent of pubs serve scampi.

Martyn Smith, head of catering development for the Barracuda Group, confirms the scampi success story: "Scampi and chips remains one of our top five menu favourites across all five of our brands: Smith & Jones, Varsity, Barracuda Bar, Juniper and Cape.

"It's particularly dominant in our more traditional and community-based outlets, so ensuring we select only the best scampi available is vital for our consumers' enjoyment."

Barracuda is now working with Whitby Seafood as its scampi supplier. The well-established brand evokes heritage, quality, and strong brand confidence among consumers.

Martyn says: "Long before 'provenance' became a buzz word in the industry, we knew we wanted to display 'Whitby wholetail scampi' on our menus because of the loyal following and brand recognition it had, and still does today.

"In fact, Whitby scampi is as much recognised in our London and southern pubs as it is up north, so we know we're meeting our customers' exacting standards."

However, consumers also like to balance familiar products with a little experimentation. Over the past few years, Barracuda has seen increasing interest in global cuisine and introduced more 'food-of-the-world' dishes to its menu, including Whitby's mini Thai fish cakes and Thai battered prawns.

Martyn says: "Thailand has been a holiday hotspot for a number of years and five years ago we added Thai influences to our menu, including the battered prawns. We added the Thai fish cakes to our tapas sharing menu, introduced in spring 2007. The fish cakes fitted perfectly with the new menu concept - an unusual finger-food-style menu perfect for friends to share over a few drinks.

"Looking at popular holiday destinations is always a good way and spotting new trends in food because holidaymakers want to recreate their experiences when they return.

"Food, flavours and aromas are a great way for diners to do this. Just like the Spanish paella phenomenon 15 years ago, when Spain became the destination of choice, everyone had it on the menu - it's the same for Thailand today."

Sustainability is an increasing concern for consumers, so ensuring menus offer seafood choices from sustainable sources will help tap into the feelgood factor

"We already include Whitby's Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) accredited fish cakes on our menus and we are working further with Whitby in looking at other varieties of MSC-accredited fish and seafood options they can offer," says Martyn.

"Customers are increasingly environmentally conscious and we aim to reflect this mood - that's why we're looking into this issue sooner rather than later."

Whitby Seafood has recently undergone a 12-month process with the MSC to get its scampi recognised as coming from a sustainable source.

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