Sainsbury’s challenges the UK to Switch the Fish

Since Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall started throwing perfectly edible fish over the side of a trawler as part of Channel 4’s Big Fish Fight series, the UK has gone fish-loving crazy. Thousands of people have signed up to the Fish Fight campaign, businesses including Selfridges have launched their own campaign,  Project Ocean and now Sainsbury’s have joined forces with Jamie Oliver to launch their Switch the Fish campaign this Friday. Here’s what it’s all about:-

  • Free alternative fish to be offered to customers when asking for one of the ‘Big 5′: cod, haddock, tuna, salmon and prawns
  • Sainsbury’s encourages shoppers to choose alternative species in store such as coley, pouting and megrim
  • Switch the Fish van to travel to UK cities encouraging the nation to get ambitious with their taste buds
  • Jamie Oliver to support campaign

On Friday 17 June, in a UK first, Sainsbury’s customers asking for one of the ‘Big 5′ species of cod, haddock, tuna, salmon or prawns from its fish counters will be offered an alternative, lesser known species for free*. With 80% of fish sales currently made up of the ‘Big 5′, Sainsbury’s believes this is the boldest move yet by any UK retailer to encourage customers to widen their repertoire in fish and make more sustainable choices.

Taking Channel 4’s Great British Fish Fight a step further, this unprecedented move allows customers to try varieties such as pouting, megrim, coley, and mackerel, in a risk-free way helping to alleviate pressure on declining fish stocks and reduce waste from fishing.

Campaign elements

Jamie Oliver

  • Supporting Switch the Fish campaign encouraging customers to try something new
  • Features in DVD for Sainsbury’s fish counter colleagues
  • Exclusive recipe tip cards available at Sainsbury’s fish counters, supported by ‘how to’ recipe demos online
  • Answering questions on Switch the Fish from Sainsbury’s Facebook community


  • New survey results show just how set in their ways the British public are when it comes to eating and buying fish
  • 41% of the UK eat cod at least once a month whilst a fifth of people eat tuna at least once a week
  • 84% of Brits have never even tried megrim whilst 82% have never eaten pouting
  • 43% of fish-eaters are put off trying a different type of fish if they were unsure about its taste
  • 31% of people are discouraged from trying a fish if they didn’t know how to cook it


  • Switch the Fish van visiting cities and stores across the England and Scotland
  • Launching in London on 17 June at Broadgate Circle
  • Sampling alternative species and educating consumers on sustainable fish sourcing


  • Switch the Fish report highlighting results of Sainsbury’s/YouGov poll on consumer’s fish buying and eating habits.
  • Foreword from Richard Benyon, Minister for the Natural Environment and Fisheries
  • Read more about sustainable fishing at Sainsbury’s and download the Switch the Fish report from Sainsbury’s hot topics section.

Justin King, Sainsbury’s CEO said: “Sainsbury’s Switch the Fish campaign really marks a step change in our support of alternative species of fish. It’s not about eliminating the ‘Big ‘5, but helping our customers to widen their repertoire. We hope that by leading by example, we can help change UK fish eating habits to restore declining fish stocks.”

Minister for the Natural Environment and Fisheries, Richard Benyon MP added: “This is exactly the sort of thing we’ve been working hard for in government – sustainable fish stocks and the conservation of our precious marine environment for future generations.

“If more people start to choose a wider variety of fish, this will help in our battle to end the terrible waste of millions of edible fish being thrown back into the sea dead because of an outdated system. I’d like to congratulate Sainsbury’s for all the work it’s doing on this issue.”

Jamie Oliver commented: “Earlier this year I joined the debate to encourage people to try new, less loved fish which had a great response. Sainsbury’s is really taking the next step with its campaign ‘Switch the Fish’ demonstrating its commitment to getting customers to widen their choice when it comes to eating something other than the ‘Big 5′. Offering free alternative fish is a great way to do this and will in turn help people be a bit more adventurous when they come to do their next shop.”

For more information on Sainsbury’s Switch the Fish activity please visit

Switch the Fish Van tour schedule

Subject to change – please use the contact details above to confirm

Date Time City Location Address
17.06.11 All day London Liverpool Street Broadgate Circle
24.06.11 AM Bristol Cabot Circus shopping centre Cabot Circus
The Management Suite
Glass House
Bristol BS1 3BX
24.06.11 PM Bristol Sainsbury’s store – Clifton Down Clifton Down Shopping Centre
Whiteladies Road
01.07,11 AM Birmingham City centre – Centenary Square Centenary Square, Birmingham
01.07.11 PM Birmingham Sainsbury’s store – Marshall Lake Birmingham 545 Stratford Road
B90 4AJ
08.07.11 AM Manchester Piccadilly Gardens Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester
08.07.11 PM Manchester Sainsbury’s store – Salford 100 Regent Road
M5 4QU
15.07.11 AM Newcastle Northumberland Street Northumberland Street, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE3 1JZ
15.07.11 PM Newcastle Sainsbury’s store – Team Valley Eleventh Avenue
Team Valley Trading Estate
NE11 0JY
22.07.11 AM Edinburgh Castle Street Castle Street, Edinburgh
22.07.11 PM Edinburgh Sainsbury’s store – Cameron Toll Cameron Toll Store Shopping Centre
6 Lady Road
EH16 5PB

* Whilst stocks last – offer limited to one free portion of coley, megrim, hake, pouting, mackerel or rainbow trout fillets per customer, per transaction, subject to availability. Free portion of fish must be scanned at the checkout for the discount to be applied.

All free fish offered in store will be offered in a sealed, over-ready bag with butter/marinade and cooking instructions.**

Species that Sainsbury’s will be giving away for free as part of the Switch the Fish campaign are:

  • Coley – A great substitute for cod in any recipe – and cheaper too. It has a slightly dark, ivory colour when raw, but becomes white during cooking. With its sweet and meaty flavour it’s brilliant pan fried with a cheesy breadcrumb coating or in a fish pie.
  • Mackerel – If you like robust, savoury flavours, mackerel’s the fish for you. Like salmon, it’s packed with omega-3 fatty acids so it’s also a healthy choice. After gutting, you can roast or grill mackerel, either whole or cut into fillets. They taste sensational cooked over barbeque coals and are wonderful in Asian fish recipes with ingredients like teriyaki sauce, ginger, coriander and lime.
  • Megrim – A tender flatfish that’s plentiful year round, it makes an economical substitute for any plaice or sole recipes. Try it simply grilled or roasted whole with butter or olive oil and lemon. It makes a perfect addition to fish soup too.
  • Pouting – A prolific British white fish found mainly in shallow inland waters, this is another great cod substitute. It has a flaky and moist texture and is fabulous in home-made fish fingers and fishcake recipes. Or try it battered and fried and served with a chilli jam or tartare sauce.
  • Rainbow trout – Raised on freshwater fish farms, this is a top choice for health. It has high levels of A and B vitamins, calcium, selenium and omega-3. Yet is has only a third of the fat of salmon, so it’s an excellent low calorie food. It is also quick and easy to cook – keep it whole and poach, steam, grill or pan-fry. Delicious stuffed with fresh summer herbs.
  • Hake – A member of the cod family and popular throughout Europe and America. Hake is quite a mild fish, with a white flaky texture and a more fine and subtle flavour than that of cod. The fish has a soft, iron-grey skin and silvery belly. The flesh when raw is naturally very soft, but when cooked it becomes firm and meaty. In France, hake is called ‘saumon blanc’, which translates as ‘white salmon’.

**don’t forget, if you want to extend the life of your fresh fish, pop it in the freezer – just be sure to put on a food storage label.


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Great idea since we all buy the same fish all the time. Would be good to taste something new without having to pay more.


Completely agree, sometimes we get stuck in a ‘shopping rut’ and need a nudge. Hopefully if it’s a success, they’ll roll it out across the country :)


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