Expert Eye: Tiffany Irvin, The Fish Works, Largs

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The Fish Works

Last year, The Fish Works was invited to represent the fish and chip industry in creating a framework with Public Health Scotland to make takeaways healthier. Here, Tiffany shares some of the results 

Eating out, Eating Well, which is the framework we consulted on, looked at ways to reduce the salt, fat and calorie content of takeaways while also increasing the fibre. The framework was published in February and we have been piloting it since. 

We were already offering light bite portions, which helps reduce the calorie content, but we thought how can we take this to another level? So we started offering fruit – bananas, apples and tangerines – at the counter which customers can buy as an add-on for 50p. When we were creating the framework, I didn’t think customers would go for it, but they have.

We’ve also introduced a scheme where customers can swap their chips for a salad. We don’t have a lot of space in our shop so we buy in pre-made salad bags and then chop some cucumber, tomatoes and onions, which we have already for our tacos and bao buns. It’s not much extra work and we are getting the same price for a side salad as we would for a portion of mushy peas or curry sauce so profitability-wise it’s really good. This has reduced the calorie content of a meal but what it has also done is open us up to new customers who wouldn’t normally go to a fish and chip shop.

We have increased fibre by offering tacos on tortillas, by reducing the chips served with them from a 10oz portion to a 6oz portion, and also by reducing the rumbling time on our potatoes from 30 seconds to 25 seconds to leave some skin on. We are also now offering a different type of oily fish – salmon, trout, sprat and mackerel – one day a week, and we also offer a baked version simply using two Ninja air fryers (we would love a Rational but we don’t have the space). We are selling quite a bit, which I didn’t think would happen but, again, it’s opening ourselves up to those customers trying to be slightly healthier. 

Another thing we’ve done is reduce the fat and salt content in certain products. For example, we swapped our mayonnaise for a vegan one from Rich Sauces, reducing the fat content from 79g/100g to 70g/100g. We slowly phased it in and so far we’ve had only positive feedback. And we’ve had our own batter made by Middleton Foods, which has seen the salt content drop from 2.3g/100g to 1.9g/100g. They may only be slight differences but they all add up.

I wasn’t sure about all the changes at first, but they seem to be selling and we have been busy all the time rather than having that quiet period up until April when, metaphorically speaking, we get punched in the face through to October!

I still think of us as being quite new to the industry – we’ve only been open for seven years – and I think we have to continually develop and improve to stay relevant, stay busy and stay ahead. We don’t want to fall back into being basic fish and chips that just the older generation want to come for. We want to offer different things which get the whole family in. 

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