fish fingers

Much has changed in the convenience food sector. But by being alert to trends, Birds Eye has maintained a market-leading position over many years.

Fish fingers were invented and launched by Clarence Birdseye in 1955. According to the company that bears his name, over 15 billion have since been sold in the UK. TGI ‘Trackback’ data held within the Archive shows they were consumed in 70% of homes in the early 1970s. 20 years on, in the early 1990s, the figure was still 60%. But the signs of increasing sophistication in the convenience food sector were there: the penetration of ready meals had grown from 26% to 36% over the same period.

Convenience food chart from TGI

Birds Eye had spotted and ridden this trend. With over 8 million buyers they were still the leading fish finger brand in 1992, and by then they also led the ready meals category too. Here they had supplanted Vesta, as frozen meals gained in popularity at the expense of the packeted variety.

Jumping forward a further twenty years to 2012, the positions of the two categories had reversed. Ready meals in all their forms had become part of the diet for 72% of us, and consumption of fish fingers had dropped to around 40% of households, overtaken also by other frozen fish products.

Yet 40% is an impressive level of household penetration for a product invented almost 60 years earlier, and Birds Eye was still the leading fish finger brand. What’s more, a look the frozen section of the ready meals category in 2012 shows that Birds Eye had retained its market-leading position here too. It’s clearly a brand that has kept a close watch on things.


TGI (Target Group Index) is a continuous survey which has been carried out in Great Britain since 1969, based on 25,000 adults per annum, who provide information on their use of all major products, brands and services.  Attitudinal, demographic and media exposure data are also included.  Kantar, who own and operate the TGI, are making major donations of data to AMSR.  Click here to explore the TGI archive within AMSR.

Contributed by Geoff Wicken
Date posted: June 5th, 2020


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