Fresh fish is now the ­fastest-growing protein - with value sales growth significantly ahead of meat and poultry.

Sales for fresh fish grew 7.4% to £1.3bn [Kantar Worldpanel 52 w/e 18 August 2014], while sales for fresh meat and fresh poultry & game grew just 2.3% and 1.3% respectively to £6.1bn and £2.9bn in the same period.

Although much of the growth was due to price hikes - with salmon up 13% to £14.18/kg in the year to 17 August, for example - fresh fish volumes have risen 0.6% against a 2% decline in volumes of fresh meat, while poultry & game has fallen 2.3%.

More emphasis by retailers on their fish counters had contributed to growth, said Young’s Seafood marketing director Yvonne Adam.

Fishmonger services helped shoppers to select seafood, giving them “more confidence and inspiring them with new ideas on how to cook fish,” she said.

“We believe the fish counter revolution will have a positive impact on the market as a whole over the long term.”

While acknowledging the role inflation had played in the category’s value growth, Icelandic Seachill MD Simon Smith said innovation, investment and communication had been key factors in bringing new consumers to fresh fish.

Citing the example of Icelandic’s Saucy Fish Co, which grew by 47.5% year on year in the 12 weeks to 12 October [Kantar Worldpanel], Smith said consumers knew “fish is healthy, they don’t really need reminding of this.”

What they did need instead, he claimed, was “convenience and inspiration,” adding consumers were increasingly shopping in convenience stores where there was less retailer loyalty, and were seeking “brands that they recognise and trust.”