After years of hounding the nation’s biggest retailer, campaigning chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has finally buried the hatchet with Tesco and will instead focus his attention on John West when his Fish Fight returns to TV on Monday.
The one-off special, Hugh’s Fish Fight: The Battle Continues the much-anticipated follow-up to Hugh’s Fish Fight series in January will air on Channel 4. During the programme, seen in advance by The Grocer, the chef details the progress made on tuna sourcing, as well as EU fish discards policy, since Fish Fight debuted.
Fearnley-Whittingstall is filmed praising Tesco for making a commitment to switch to pole and line- caught tuna. “I absolutely reiterate that massive congratulations are due to Tesco for a very bold decision and I’m sure they’ve found ways to be sure they can deliver on it because they all know the world is now watching.”
Chefs and their campaigns…
Rant? Oliver railed against Turkey Twizzlers and school food generally Result? Twizzlers were ditched, and government fixed school menus
Rant? Hugh’s Fish Fight called for a ban on discards
Result? Got his wish and even picked up a BAFTA in the process
Rant? Ramsay called for laws to ensure that produce is only used when in season
Result? Sunk without trace
Marco Pierre White
Rant? To persuade the nation that turkey’s not just for Christmas
Result? Jury’s out until after Christmas
Later on in the programme, he visits a Tesco store to speak to the in-store fishmonger where he buys some fish, exclaiming afterwards: “Of course, the Tesco bag makes me feel a little bit queasy but I feel OK about the fish inside and in fact I’m quite looking forward to cooking it.”
The chef then goes on a manhunt to the European Seafood Exposition in pursuit of John West MD Paul Reenan, leaving him a message on his mobile when he fails to track him down. Back in the UK, he follows up with an email: “Dear Paul Reenan, how about that interview? Yours, Hugh. PS I am being filmed emailing you this, so an early reply would look good.” His request was declined but a post-programme message highlights that John West has since agreed to stop using Fish Aggregation Devices by 2016.
On discards, he lobbies MEPs in Brussels to support a ban as part of the Common Fisheries Policy and when the proposals were published (last month), he said: “As we’d hoped, it looks like there will be a ban on discards, so that is great news.”
Also in the show, the chef offers a mackerel bap to Prince Charles outside Selfridges’ Project Ocean event. The Prince asks: “Have they actually increased sales?” to which the chef replies: “Very much so, there are hundreds of chip shops now doing the mackerel bap.”
Last month, total sales of mackerel were up 14% year-on-year in the five months since the first Fish Fight in which the chef encouraged shoppers to eat more.
Meanwhile, there is good news for the salmon farming industry as Fearnley-Whittingstall has discarded his fight over the sustainability of the fishmeal used to feed farmed salmon, a focus of his ire in January.