TV chef increased cod sales by 800 per cent, export conference told –

TV chef increased cod sales by 800 per cent, export conference told Published:  17 March, 2011

THE power and influence of celebrity chefs on British fish eating habits was dramatically revealed at the Norway Seafood Conference in Grimsby yesterday.

A delegate from Sealord, the main fish supplier to Waitrose, said the supermarket chain recently  invited Heston Blumenthal to promote sustainable cod.The result was an 800 per cent increase in cod sales throughout its food stores.

Wynne Griffiths, chairman of the Humber Seafood Institute, said: “It is the chefs that persuade people, not politicians or men in suits like us. Rick Stein caused a bit of stir when he disclosed that he uses frozen Icelandic cod in some of his restaurants because Iceland does not discard fish.

“Mitch Tonks, who recently opened a couple of new restaurants, is flying the flag for Norwegian frozen fish.” He added: “Personally, I think Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall is doing a great job, although I don’t agree with everything he says, especially about farmed salmon.”

It was also disclosed that Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is planning two more Fish Fight programmes for broadcast in the summer and that efforts were being made to try to give a more positive message, especially about Icelandic and Norwegian cod, which are both responsibly and sustainably managed. The programmes are thought to feature CCTV trials on Scottish fishing vessels and beam trawlers operating out of Brixham in Devon.

It was suggested that efforts should be made to get Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall up to Norway, with Wynne Griffiths adding: “Norway has had a no discards policy for years – the country ought to become a role model for the European Union.”