Sainsbury's bid to save 'dying' fish dishes –

Sainsbury’s bid to save ‘dying’ fish dishes Published:  24 July, 2007

AMAZINGLY only one per cent of British teenagers and six per cent of British adults have ever eaten an Arbroath Smokie – and most have no idea what it is, according to new research by the supermarket group Sainsbury’s.

Even more surprising is the news that Dover sole, one of the expensive types of fish on restaurant menus, doesn’t fare a lot better with just four per cent of under 19 year-olds and 20 per cent of adults admitting to having tried it.

Now Sainsbury’s has put aside takeover speculation to launch a campaign to save these two seafood specialities, along with other traditional British Foods, from extinction. The list also includes Scottish haggis, Irish potato and cabbage Colcannon and Melton Mowbray pork pies.

In fact Arbroath Smokies – salted haddock with the backbone still in that has been smoked over a hardwood fire until it takes on a beautiful burnished gold colour – tops the list of traditional foods that are rarely eaten today even though it remains popular in Europe.

Three years ago it joined Parma Ham and Champagne by gaining European Union “protected Geographical Indication” status. The term can now only be only be used to describe haddock smoked in the traditional manner within an eight kilometre radius of Arbroath.

Sainsbury’s says this and less well known regional delicacies have been under threat for years, but now research shows other well known dishes are in trouble with, for example, more than 42 per cent of teenagers saying they have never eaten a Steak & Kidney pie.

Sainsbury’s says its research shows that young people are significantly less interested in traditional British dishes. In the report, 16-19 year olds consistently showed diminished enthusiasm for home-grown local delicacies, meaning, in time, these dishes could be lost forever.It also found that one British fish dish on the brink of extinction was Richmond Eel Pie (puffs of pastry filled with chunks of boiled eel).

The supermarket group has appointed 12 teams of ‘Regional Champions’ tasked with scouring the nation to identify local foods under threat and offering local suppliers the chance to revive these on the shelves of the company’s 750 stores throughout Britain.

Sainsbury’s says their “Best of British” campaign is designed to revive young people’s excitement in regional cuisine through its Active Kids Get Cooking scheme Over 7,500 schools are already involved in this healthy eating and cookery scheme, and to engage children with local produce and regional specialities, it recently included a challenge for them to devise their own dishes based on the theme ‘Best of British with a twist’.

Ian Jarmarkier, Head of Sainsbury’s Food & Innovation Centre said: “The results of our report ring alarm bells for many of our favourite British dishes. It’s a really worrying trend that young people have so little enthusiasm for local cuisine. We hope that by scouring every corner of the country for new suppliers with lots of new and uniquely British foods and by involving children in practical activities based on the foods local to them, we can help re-ignite pride and excitement in British food.” is published by Special Publications. Special Publications also publish FISHupdate magazine, Fish Farmer, the Fish Industry Yearbook, the Scottish Seafood Processors Federation Diary, the Fish Farmer Handbook and a range of wallplanners.