A NUMBER of traditionally under-used seafood species saw substantial growth in sales during the Christmas retail period, according to new market data published by Seafish.
But at the other end there was also a rise in demand for luxury seafood, such as caviar.
Seafish said species such as whitebait, cuttlefish, ling, snapper and skate experienced a significant increase in sales or volume sold in the UK marketplace over the festive period.
The data reveals that whitebait was one of the most significant success stories. Some £34,500 worth of the bite sized fish crossed counters between December 6 and January 2, 2016, a nearly 12 per cent increase compared to sales figures for the same period last year.
Adventurous consumers also purchased 234 per cent more cuttlefish. After registering almost negligible sales over Christmas 2014, more than £3,000 worth of the under-valued cephalopod made its way into shopping baskets.
Another surprise success was the growth in sales of ling, a species native to the Arctic and North Sea, similar in taste and texture to cod. The species saw a 3,128 per cent increase in sales over the festive period in comparison to last year.
Snapper showed signs of becoming one of our favourite tropical imports. Popular internationally, but only starting to make its mark domestically, it grew 418 per cent, with sales of £10,200.
Bottom feeders such as skate and ray also made a bigger impact, with sales of £122,470 for the flat fish in retailers over Christmas, a massive growth of 162.1 per cent against 2014.
Premium seafood products were also on the menu, with consumers purchasing more caviar than ever before; more than £167,502 of the luxury ingredient was sold to Christmas shoppers looking to splash out, a 44 per cent increase in performance.
Julia Brooks, market insight analyst at Seafish said: ‘It’s great to see a wider variety of seafood making gains in the marketplace.
‘As well as being an indicator of shifting consumer tastes, these findings also reflect an increased effort from retailers to expand their product ranges and bring under-valued, high quality species into the mainstream.’