10 things pubs need to know about fish

By Nicholas Robinson contact

- Last updated on GMT

How can you freshen up your fish offer?
How can you freshen up your fish offer?

Related tags: Seafood, Fish and chips, Cod

Who knew fish and other seafood dishes in pubs were more popular than the humble Sunday roast? Well, they are and it's a rising trend too – as more customers look to try new and exciting flavours.

1) Fish and other seafood in pubs is more popular than anywhere else


Eleven per cent of all mains eaten in pubs last year were fish and other seafood dishes. This is higher than the total eating-out-market, where 7.4% of all mains were seafood dishes – down from 7.7% in 2014.

2) Second most popular dish in pubs


Only burgers are more popular than fish dishes in pubs, according to MCA’s Eating Out Panel. Beef burgers make up 8.1% of all mains, while fish and chips is the second most popular dish overall.
Forty four per cent of all seafood dishes served in pubs last year were fish and chips, followed by scampi (11%), salmon (9%), grilled fish (8%) and seabass (5%).

3) Fish is growing in popularity


Research from the NPD Group shows that since 2012 there has been an 8.5% increase in servings of seafood in pubs, with 3.6% year-on-year growth from March 2015 to March 2016.

4) Seafood sandwiches are on the up


While fried fish holds 37.3% of fish servings in the out-of-home market, seafood sandwiches are raising their game and now hold a 29.5% share.

5) Expanding beyond the ‘top five’


Although consumers tend to focus on five species of fish and other seafood – salmon, tuna, cod, haddock and prawns – they are open to trying new things.
New species rising in interest include brill, megrim, squid, coley and pollock.

6) Would you like to premiumise that?


Owner of North Shields pub the Staith House, John Calton, who uses fresh fish landed daily from the nearby quay, says premium fish dishes on the menu can be offered for around £25.
However, be aware of your location, as he says: “On the turbot, we take a hit. If we charged the full price we would never sell any, so we go for something like 60% GP margin. There is still a higher profit margin to be made and you can hit 70% on whiting, gurnard or squid.”

7) Know your suppliers and fishmonger


Having a close relationship with your suppliers can help you get a better product and a better price, according to Andy Gray, marketing manager at trade body Seafish.

8) Be more innovative


Traditional fish and chips may be the most popular fish dish in pubs, but you can still experiment. Lancashire-based Seafood Pub Company’s exective chef Antony Shirley, says: “We try to rework the classic dishes. If you look at beef bourguignon, we sell a monkfish version with red wine, chestnut mushrooms and bacon.”

9) What’s in season?


To get the best quality and price, ensure you stick to the seasons. Watch out for the Fish Report in the 2 June issue of the Publican’s Morning Advertiser ​where you will see a full list of what’s in season and when.

10) Cast your net further


Don’t rely on one or two species. Review your menu regularly to ensure you meet growing demand from consumers and to avoid contributing to the overfishing of certain species.

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