King prawns to overtake burgers as top BBQ food

Posted on 10:47 PM by Sameer Shah

Figures show their popularity soaring thanks to appearances in recipes by Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver.

More exotic middle class tastes, boosted by a generation of gap year travellers, are also thought to be behind the change while concerns over obesity have persuaded others to cut back on meat.

Gordon Ramsay recently featured a king prawn and scallop wonton soup in his television programme, "The F Word", while Jamie Oliver cooked up a skewered option with lemon and bay leaves for barbecues.

Sales of king prawns have increased by 14 per cent in a year - twice the rate seen by burgers, according to figures provided by market research firm TNS.

The study, commissioned by Marks & Spencer, found that sales of old fashioned frozen burgers were flat.

Separate data from the Sea Fish Industry Authority now ranks warm water prawns - which include king prawns and tiger prawns - as the fifth most popular type of seafood after salmon, cod, haddock and cold water prawns.

British shoppers spent just over £169 million on warm water prawns last year while frozen burgers accounted for just £44 million of sales.

Marks & Spencer said its sales of king prawns had soared by 20 per cent in the same period.

"Once upon a time a barbecue meant bangers and burgers but now people are more adventurous and want a range of dishes to serve," M&S fish specialist Lesley Saunders said.

"King prawns are popular because they are more unusual and also a light and healthy option.

"Another reason for why they have become so fashionable is because they are quick and easy to cook."

Jon Harman, development director at the Sea Fish Industry Authority, said: "Warm water prawns are in strong growth because they are extremely versatile and, in addition to being used in sandwiches and salads, they can offer good value in main meals."

When premium fresh varieties are included, the UK burger market is still worth almost £700 million a year. Higher prices helped push the figure up seven per cent although volume grew by only four per cent.

But the growing popularity of king prawns has provoked anger from environmentalists who claim that prawn farming has destroyed a quarter of the world's mangrove forests.

Some parts of the industry have also been accused of polluting water supplies and coastline with growth hormones, antibiotics and effluent.

As well as Asian countries such as Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, and Bangladesh, they are increasingly cultivated further afield in places including Honduras, Guatemala and Madagascar.

Some small organic prawn farms have been set up more recently shunning antibiotic growth promoters.

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