Brits appear to have fallen out of love with the fish finger.
Volume sales have slumped 4.6% over the past year to 29,274 tonnes as shoppers have traded down to smaller packs and switched to chilled fish [Kantar Worldpanel 52 w/e 18 August]. Value sales have also fallen, by 4.1% to £123.6m.
These declines are in sharp contrast to the strong growth of the previous two years - in 2012, value and volume sales were up 7.5% and 7.8% respectively, and in 2011 they increased 7.1% and 7.7% year on year [Kantar 52 w/e 2 September 2012 and 4 September 2011].
The slump could be ominous, warned experts, as fish fingers played a key role in drawing consumers into the fish category. Research from Birds Eye suggests 75% of British consumers get their first taste of fish through fish fingers.
Birds Eye blamed the decline on shoppers trading down to smaller packs. However, Clare Downing, Birds Eye senior brand manager for fish, added that 2012 had been an “exceptionally good year and so is a tough comparison”.
Young’s Seafood said fewer shoppers were buying fish fingers and they were buying less per trip. “Consumers have been switching to other frozen products such as breaded, or purchasing from the chilled category,” added a spokeswoman.
Birds Eye predicted the category would bounce back in 2014. “Strong Birds Eye fish finger TV support will bring new shoppers to the category and return it to growth,” said Downing.