Article written by Malcolm Large, Executive Director of FASFA

Well, there we are, thankfully at the end of one of the strangest years I, for one, can remember. Whilst the first half of the year was almost entirely focused on our collective struggles with Covid-19, the second half saw Brexit return to our front pages as we marched ever closer to January 1st.

As I’ve previously discussed, we have seen a disappointing rise in the frequency and volume of misleading headlines around the future availability of ‘Great British Fish and Chips’ with regards to Brexit. Negotiations around commercial fishing and access to fishing grounds undeniably became a political football in the protracted negotiations, so perhaps it should come as no surprise that the fish and chip industry was caught up in the crossfire. There is much to debunk here, though, particularly as over 85% of fish sold in fish and chip shops is frozen at sea and sourced sustainably from non-EU waters. These supply chains are robust and secure, so there really is no cause for concern when it comes to the future availability of fish and chips.

In happier news, though, we were delighted to welcome the launch of Love Seafood, the new consumer brand and campaign from Seafish. This new brand replaces the previous consumer brand, ‘Fish is the Dish’ and has ambitious aims to reverse the decline in seafood consumption over the next 20 years. As an organisation, FASFA support Love Seafish and look forward to playing our part in supporting its objectives by raising the profile of high quality, sustainably sourced (and undeniably delicious!) frozen at sea fish in UK fish and chip shops.

FASFA is determined to work with the NFFF and Seafish to safeguard the future of the National Fish & Chip Awards so they continue to shine a light on good practice and reward excellence in our industry for years to come.

We also look ahead to National Fish and Chip Day, which will take place on Friday (or Fryday…) 4th June 2021. This is always a highlight of the annual calendar as shops, suppliers, consumers and commentators come together to celebrate the nation’s favourite in style. Given that 2020 has been profoundly impacted by Covid-19, we are sure that next year’s National Fish and Chip Day activities will be very welcome, well-supported and embraced by more consumers than ever before. For our part, we will certainly be getting involved with the celebrations and look forward to revealing more on that nearer the time…

As 2020 closed, it was easy to be consumed by the doom and gloom around us in this challenging and uncertain climate but as we move into 2021 there are certainly reasons to be positive. When it comes to frozen at sea fillets, our trade deals, relationships and supply chains are strong and secure. In addition, I think we can all agree that our UK fish and chip shops have did us proud in 2020 by weathering the storm of Covid, diversifying their practices and remaining as dynamic, innovative and resilient as ever.

Perhaps most importantly, though, 2020 has shown that the UK’s unwavering love for fish and chips can withstand any crisis and continues to grow – that really is something to give us all a bit of festive cheer this season!