Consumers switching to lower-cost fish and endorsement by celebrity chefs have helped double pollack and pouting sales. Morrisons reported this week that sales of pouting were up by more than 100% and pollack by 97%, albeit from a low base, while consumer spending on traditional species such as cod and haddock had remained relatively static.

“The effects of the credit crunch are taking their toll and people are looking for cheaper ways to get fish into their weekly shop,” said Morrisons fish buyer, Matthew Bailey.

Morrisons is currently the only major retailer selling fresh UK pouting and pollack, according to the Marine Conservation Society, which has been working with the retailer to develop a market. “We can’t believe the sales increase of these two species, which are becoming ever more popular,” said MCS fisheries officer Sam Wilding.

The MCS, which last week updated its fish-to-eat and fish-to-avoid lists, gave both species a sustainability rating of two, where one is awarded to the most sustainable species and five to the least. Although pollack tends to be more well known among consumers, pouting also has potential to do well as shoppers move towards more sustainably sourced fish, according to Seafish.

“Previously, pouting has been known as a discard fish, so it’s great to see consumers getting a taste for it. The species is so plentiful it’s not even subject to stock assessments,” said Philip Macmullen, Seafish head of environmental sustainability.

Morrisons said its fresh fish-labelling scheme had helped boost sales.

“Our innovative labelling scheme for our fresh fish provides customers with more information than from any other retailer, including the scientific name of each fish, to give every confidence that what is on sale has been sourced responsibly,” said Bailey. “The labels also give the origin of the fish and the catch method, allowing customers to make a more informed choice about the fish they buy.”