Fish fingers are back on the British menu in a big way as consumers increasingly buy into cheaper frozen fish and take advantage of a wider product selection, new figures reveal. Sales of fish fingers have shot up 12% in the last year, according to Seafish, and are now worth about £118m. One of the manufacturers that has benefited is Findus, which saw the revival coming and earlier this year brought back its fish fingers after an 11-year absence.

Seafood is the strongest-growing segment in the freezer cabinet, reported Seafish, up 5% in volume in the past quarter compared with the same period a year ago. It has also risen 8% in value to £731m. Younger, family households are leading the drive towards frozen as they look for more economical, but healthy food options, while the rise in awareness of omega-3 has boosted the fish category generally, Seafish said. Natural seafood, including fish fillets, remain the biggest sellers, with breaded, battered and fingers also popular. Sales of natural seafood have risen 12% to £182m in the past year, while frozen fishcakes are also seeing a resurgence, with 11% value growth.

“Frozen seafood is having a renaissance,” said marketing manager Andy Gray. “This may be attributed to price increases in the market and consumers switching to cheaper frozen options – although the average price of seafood has risen only 4% in this time.”

Lower prices is only one of the reasons that shoppers are buying into frozen, according to Brian Young, director general of the British Frozen Food Federation, who cites increased variety as key. “Frozen fish is doing fantastically well, with consumer interest awoken by the introduction of products such as pollock-based fish fingers with 0mega-3 health benefits,” he said.

Retailers are also increasingly stocking frozen premium and speciality products such as lobster and langoustine, which were not previously widely available in a frozen format, he added.