It’s Friday – the ideal time for fish and chips. But are you finding that however big your appetite, you just cannot finish the giant portion of chips served by your favourite fryer?
Now a wholesaler has suggested fish and chip shops should sell “extra small” portions as a healthier option.
JJ Food Service, supplier to more than 1,000 UK shops, says small portions could still be cut by almost a third.
An industry survey has suggested 45% of customers want smaller chip portions.
In the same survey, 36% would opt for a smaller fish portion, given the choice, to cut down on calories.
The National Federation of Fish Friers pointed out that families who knew they were getting “huge portions” were ordering with that in mind and sharing them.
Andrew Crook, vice president of the federation, said: “We know that fish and chips are twice as healthy as burgers and chips, but it’s not often a meal for one anymore”.
The survey by Seafish, the seafood authority, suggests that 53% of consumers would like to know the fat content of a portion of fish and chips.
But it is difficult to estimate as there is no industry standard on portion sizes.
There are more than 10,500 traditional fish and chip shops in the UK and most of them are independent.
Together they vastly outnumber some of the UK’s biggest fast food outlets, according to the federation, which include 1,250 McDonalds outlets and 840 Kentucky Fried Chicken branches.
Mr Crook explained that many fish and chip shops offer larger portions to draw customers away from their competitors.
Elit Rowland, head of communications for JJ Food Services, said: “The average portion size for a small fish and chips is actually quite massive, and can range from 10oz (283g) to 20oz (567g) .
“We’ve found that customers want small portion and we think that 10oz of chips is roughly the right amount for a small portion.”
The company is running a “10oz challenge” for Seafood Week, a national campaign run by Seafish, to encourage more people to eat more fish more often.
One in five people visit fish and chip shops every week, while 56% buy takeaway fish and chips to eat at home as a family meal, according to the National Federation of Fish Friers.
James Clarke, a manager at Simpson’s in Cheltenham, the current fish and chip shop of year, said around 90% of people order the traditional battered fish and chips.
Simpson’s offers two different cod portion sizes: seven ounces and nine ounces, though Mr Clarke, who is also the restaurant’s main fryer, said he will cook to order.
“We have a regular customer, an older gentleman, who likes a four ounce portion and we’re more than happy to make that for him.”
He said the man was one of a number of older customers who prefer smaller portions.
Mr Clarke added: “We have always offered oven-baked fish, and probably once a day someone will order it.”
Mr Crook, who also runs a fish and chip shop near Chorley in Lancashire, said that while people will always favour the traditional cod and chips, he had seen a trend towards “light bite” options and healthier cooking methods.
He said: “Everyone knows you’re supposed to have fish twice a week and the easiest option is to buy it as many people are scared of cooking it, the smell and so on.
“But it’s really healthy, and even mushy peas count as one of your five-a-day”.