We take a look at some of the key trends that are likely to impact on the fish and chips sector in 2018
With everything in storage now to take fish and chip shops through to June and July next year, word has it that the crop for the early part of 2018 is looking good, not only in volume terms but also quality as growing conditions this year have been particularly favourable. This should help keep prices relatively stable until the summer at least. Friers will start to see a few different names come to the fore - in particular diva, performer and eurostar - although in small quantities.
The price of frozen at sea cod and haddock is expected to increase as quota cuts kick in and particular sizes may be more difficult to source. This could increase demand for British fish, which is already becoming more popular, especially with the MSC certification of North Sea cod and further certifications for haddock and hake. At the same time, more and more of Britain’s favourite takeaways are serving sustainable fish – the MSC has just certified its 100th fish and chip shop while the number of MSC certified chippies is up 30% from last year. With the MSC trialing a scheme to make it more cost effective for small businesses to take part, and sustainability now a key factor driving dining decisions, it’s predicted that more and more fish and chip shops will be getting on board in 2018.
Digital and card transactions
Card and online transactions will continue to increase across 2018, especially as the costs associated with taking card payments comes down. This, along with an increasingly attentive HMRC, could have wider implications for the industry and could lead to an increased level of consolidation in 2018 as some shop owners find it increasingly difficult to operate in the way they have been and decide it’s time to get out.
The big cheese
Cheese is back and we’re not talking the fondue type of the 70s, we mean the melted, liquid, runny type. Poured on chips, added to a burger or incorporated into a lobster mac and cheese, the dirtier the better.
The fourth meal
With consumer eating patterns changing from three set meals to an on-the-go lifestyle, eating little and often is becoming the norm and giving rise to a fourth meal in the day. What’s more, increasingly busy lives are leading to the blurring of traditional meal times with brunch now booming and more of us tucking into ‘brinner’ - a breakfast and dinner hybrid.
Consumers are tired of the same old loyalty schemes and expect more than simple discounts and freebies, according to research by NPD Group. The next chapter will be about tiered and personalized foodservice loyalty. Loyalty schemes should aim to target your most valuable customers with ‘Premium’, ‘VIP-only’, ‘Exclusive’ or ‘Private’ offers. Also, delivering the occasional, disruptive surprise will help drive short-term share gains and generate buzz and brand warmth.
As the popularity in plant-based diets shows no signs of stopping - the number of vegans in the UK alone has risen 350% in the last ten years - 2018 will see an increasing demand for vegan and vegetarian dishes. While embracing tofu and chips might be a step too far for some shops, there’s no reason why you can’t experiment with adaptations of popular takeaway favourites, such as frickles, halloumi, fritters and the such.
To drink or not to drink
Matching wine and, in particular, sparkling versions with fish and chips is becoming increasingly popular, making it more of a special occasion yet still a cost effective way to compete with other casual dining outlets. However, it’s important not to ignore the growing number of people, particularly those aged 16 to 24, who are shunning alcohol altogether. It is expected that the range of low and 0% ABV wines and beers will grow in 2018, along with alcohol free spirits.
Rising food costs
Food costs have been increasing throughout 2017 and next year will be no different. Staying on top of these costs will be all the more important as the months go on, as will regular assessments of menu items to ensure they remain profitable.
Share a recommendation
In the age of social media and smart phones, consumers love recommendations for places to eat or drink, and what to order when they choose an outlet. Winners will be those operators who can help their customers make the best choice. Good staff training and the smart use of customer data will help operators present personalized recommendations, making customers feel valued and wanting to return.
Reducing waste will continue to be a top priority in 2018. According to a recent survey by Waitrose, 7% of consumers say they now take a doggy bag home after a meal out but never would have done so five years ago, while 16% said they used to do it sometimes, but now do it more frequently.
With carbs now officially back, chips look to get more of the limelight as outlets selling just chips increasingly open. Twice-cooked and topped with a host of meaty and vegetable-based toppings, this fish and chip shop staple is being given the fast casual touch,resulting in chips becoming a meal in its own right.