Sushi now the catch of the day at lunchtime

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 19th September 2008

Seafood platter

New research released by Seafish, the authority on seafood in the UK, has revealed that sushi is now an established lunchtime favourite. Sales of sushi are up 21% year on year, with the total UK sushi market now worth £38.9 million per annum.

The raw fish trade is booming in ‘western’ countries worldwide, with health benefits and an increased consumer desire for something different assisting the trend. The love affair with sushi has been noticeable here in Australia, with a host of new sushi takeaway stores opening on a consistent basis.

UK supermarkets, such as Waitrose, have begun stocking the product over the past couple of years as it has become more mainstream. Sales at Waitrose have increased as much as 88% in recent years, with a good helping of sushi proving as popular with office workers as lunchtime staples such as sandwiches and salads.

Waitrose Sushi Buyer, David Stone, believes that health is the primary driver of sales of the product. “With its low calorie count and nutritional benefits, shoppers are going against the grain and looking for more than just bread in their lunch hour,” he commented. “Oily fish is rich in vitamins and Omega-3 fats have benefits for both body and brain making it the perfect midday snack.”

Only a few years ago sushi was considered more of a luxury in the UK (and most ‘western’ countries) and as such could only be found in specialist stores and restaurants. “Sushi has been doing extremely well as a newcomer to the lunch menu and has become a mainstream item – albeit one with an ‘exclusive’ quality,” Andy Gray, Marketing Manager at Seafish, added. “Our research shows that people are buying sushi for its aspirational values – it’s seen as exotic, healthy and trendy. It is mostly young people aged between 16-22 that dominate the market but there is emerging growth in the older age categories as well.”