British fall hook, line and sinker for fish and chips

November 30, 2004

Latest research from MINTEL finds that a truly British institution – the local fish and chip shop – ranks as Britain’s favourite place to eat. Indeed, in three months alone, as many as half of Britons visited one. This traditional fayre is closely followed by a meal down the local pub, another time-honoured British establishment, which attracts 46% of diners.

Chinese, sushi and noodle bar, restaurants and takeaways rank a close third at 45%, followed by pizza restaurants and takeaways, which entice some 35% of British diners. Surprisingly, this leaves the now almost ubiquitous Indian curry house languishing in fifth place, with only around three in ten (31%) having visited an Indian restaurant or takeaway during this time.

” Although the British are renowned for their penchant for Indian and Chinese takeaways, it is in fact the good old British chippy, which is considered a firm favourite amongst British diners today. The popularity of pubs and fish and chip shops just shows that there is still a real desire to eat British food. Pubs have been at the forefront of reviving and rejuvenating interest in British cuisine. Gastropubs, chain pubs and dedicated pub restaurants, which serve reasonably priced meals, have inherently transformed how the public view pub food today, ” comments Linda Haden, Senior Catering Analyst at MINTEL.

Despite the trend towards more traditional British eateries, it appears that the British palate is still the most diverse in Europe. Indeed, when it comes to trying ethnic dishes, the British are considerably more adventurous than their continental counterparts with as many as seven in ten (68%) Britons agreeing that they ” like foreign food ” . This compares to just 29% of Spaniards. The French (at 59%) and Germans (at 64%) fail to match British interest.
Who needs an expert?When it comes to choosing where to eat, British diners reject the food critics, in favour of word of mouth from family and friends. As many as 35% of adults feel the best restaurants they have ever eaten in were recommended by friends and family. Meanwhile, just 8% ” trust ” food guides and critics, these experts, seemingly, having little influence on Britain’s dining decisions.

” It is clear that customer recommendations are the lifeblood of a restaurant. It is fair to say that most people will know the standards their friends and family expect, together with the kind of food and ambience they like, making recommendations from family and friends more relevant. While in many cases it is likely that consumers will have similar tastes to friends and family, it may be that diners feel that their tastes are far removed those of the critics, ” comments Linda Haden.

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