Retailers can reduce waste by stocking more frozen fish, WRAP finds

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The British Frozen Food Federation claims retailers can boost their profits by stocking more frozen fish, after a new study by WRAP (the Waste & Resources Action Programme) found 1% of all frozen fish from across the retail supply chain goes to waste versus 5% for fresh fish.

Brian Young, director general of BFFF, said: “By stocking more frozen fish, retailers can increase their profits by cutting the amount of products that end up as waste without compromising on the quality or choice offered to their customers.”

The Resource Maps for Fish across Retail and Wholesale Supply report looked at waste at multiple retailers and across 17 common fish species including cod, haddock, tuna and prawns.

Young said: “We have long known frozen food offers exceptional waste savings due to its longer shelf life. Frozen fish is no exception and like most frozen products, it will stay safe indefinitely when stored at -18ºC or below. Fresh fish spoils quickly and ideally needs to be consumed within two to three days of purchase. This short shelf life can translate to a high waste factor in the home.”

The WRAP research also showed household disposal of fish and shellfish amounted to 43,000 tonnes per annum with a total value of £250m. Young said: “Another issue contributing to fresh fish waste is some sold on fish counters and in chiller cabinets has previously been frozen and is therefore not suitable for home freezing. Buying frozen fish means the product can be stored until needed and stays in peak condition until it is cooked.”

Fresh fish has also been under scrutiny in the wider media with reports of low fish stocks, endangered species and unsustainable methods of fishing, said the BFFF. The Federation claims this has helped boost sales of frozen fish with new figures from Kantar Worldpanel showing sales of frozen fish are up 4.1%. 

Young said: “Big brands have invested in the development of premium products, advertising and attaining endorsements from well-loved celebrity chefs. Many branded and supermarket own-label frozen fish products also carry MSC accreditation and a growing social conscience is persuading consumers to make decisions about the fish they buy based on other factors than price. Fish and seafood sourced sustainably and then frozen in the shortest possible time ensures maximum freshness and ultimately the highest quality for consumers.”