Why is there less seafood featured on British menus?

Published on
June 15, 2015

While United Kingdom restaurants are generally featuring fewer seafood items on their menus, certain fish and shellfish dishes – including clams and nearly anything spicy – are selling very well.

Shellfish apps and entrées on menus plummeted 18.3 percent while fish starters and entrées dropped 9.2 percent for the quarter ending 30 April, compared to the same time period in 2014, according to foodservice research and consulting firm Technomic.

“I think the decline is due to a lack of innovation for the growth sectors of pubs and casual dining and the lack of relevance of seafood products to the younger age groups,” Adrian Greaves, business development director for Technomic, told SeafoodSource. In addition, U.K. restaurant operators are carrying 2 percent fewer dishes overall than they did last year, according to Technomic.

Chicken and beef dishes are not only most popular in this market they also “are much stronger in product development, making their products interesting,” Greaves said. In fact, only 12 percent of U.K. restaurant diners say they order fish “most often” and 4 percent order shellfish most often, versus 34 percent who order chicken and 21 percent who order beef most often, according to RDSi research.

Despite the drop, more restaurants are featuring starters and entrées featuring a variety of seafood and spicy flavors, along with clams, squid/octopus, tuna and sushi/sashimi/nigiri, Technomic found.

Spicy fish dishes on menus soared an incredible 58.3 percent in the most recent quarter. “This has a lot to do with the Cajun/Creole trend, but also the growth of ethnic flavors in general. Mexican and Asian foods are influencing cuisine all over the U.K. and we are seeing a lot of these flavors translated into fish and seafood dishes,” said Rachel Royster, senior editor of editorial content for Technomic.

For example, Thai Square added a Crispy Spicy Tilapia dish this spring and Chiquito added San Paulo Sea Bass, coated in Mexican spices and topped with hot habanero salsa sauce.

Additionally, clam dishes soared 25 percent on appetizer menus this spring, and squid/octopus dishes jumped by 15.4 percent.

Tuna as a main entrée increased 6.3 percent, according to Technomic, led by grilled and seared preparations. For example, Close Maggiore added Seared Rare Yellowfin Tuna. Sushi/Sashimi/Nigiri entrées also remained popular and increased by 2.9 percent, led by eel and salmon dishes.

Contributing Editor



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