Whilst at the drawing board stage, preparing to open his second branch of Mike’s Fish & Chips in Blackburn, Aberdeenshire, owner Liam Brown knew he wanted to cater for coeliacs, a market he doesn’t have the capacity to serve at his Mugiemoss Road takeaway.
To do this, Liam incorporated a dedicated gluten free pan into his six pan island range and, when he was ready to open, trialled several batters before settling on Middletons Gluten Free Fish Batter.
“We found Middletons was a very good product from the beginning,” says Liam. “Customer feedback on it was exceptional, so we were happy to keep using it.”
Creating what he describes is a “perfect” batter with a “crispier” texture than his gluten-containing batter, to Liam’s surprise it has helped speed up service.
“We use fresh haddock, which only takes about two minutes to cook and go nice and white,” Liam explains. “When I fry using my traditional batter, you’re looking at about seven or eight minutes to make sure the batter is cooked fully in the middle. With the Middletons gluten free, the batter goes much crispier so I’d say my fish is in and out of that gluten free pan within four and a half to five minutes.”
As well as haddock, Middletons gluten free batter is used across a wide range of coeliac-friendly menu items such fishcakes, scampi, chicken and sausages.
Since opening in June, weekly sales of gluten free have grown to around 5%, however, it’s the additional trade these customers are bringing with them that is also driving sales.
“There are so many people that have a gluten intolerance,” says Liam. “But what we are finding is that the individual within a party that has a gluten intolerance, whether it be a party of four or a family of five, dictates where they eat. So we are getting the benefit of the whole family or party because we’re getting an extra three or four for meals on our list as well.”
After fish, the second most popular item on the menu is chicken. Liam uses Middletons Roosters Tasty Breading, which he says adds “bags of flavour and a nice punch”.
Adding chicken to the menu is a good source of revenue for Mike’s in light of its growing popularity among consumers and constantly rising fish prices. Liam adds: “We have to be realistic with the market that we’re in now. We have to try and find other avenues to generate money and chicken is a sensible option.”
Middleton Food Products 01902 608122 www.middletonfoods.com