Dr Louis Goffe, a research associate at the Institute of Health and Society at Newcastle University this month has collaborated successfully with fish and chip supplier Henry Colbeck to reduce the amount of calories customers consume at fish and chip takeaways in the North East and Scotland.
As part of the research, takeaway shop owners were helped in a three-hour session that educated them on the health issues associated with excessive portion sizes, and the benefits to their business that smaller portion sizes would bring. During the collaboration Henry Colbeck came up with the lite –BITE® box which meant that portion sizes of battered fish and chips were guaranteed to be at around 600 calories, compared with the estimated 1,500 calories of an average fish and chip takeaway.
Goff noted: “We focussed on coming up with a solution which provides a healthier meal option but equally importantly works for the fish and chip shop owners.
The sales show that there is a demand for smaller portion meals and we hope this will act as a template for others in the fast-food sector to follow.”
The research was partially funded by the NHS and FUSE (The Centre for Translational Research in Public Health) that includes fellows from Durham, Teesside and Newcastle University and Universities of Exeter and Cambridge.
Research suggested that Henry Colbeck was more readily listened to and trusted to by takeaway owners than researchers themselves, understandable as their long- term supplier. The study found financial benefits to takeaway owners and they collected data on sales of the smaller portion boxes, and customer and takeaway server experience of the produce. They found that customers were more than happy to buy them, especially those who tend not to finish a full fish and chip meal usually, and they believed this was a more manageable size.
Jackie Pearson, Head of Marketing at Henry Colbeck limited said: “The Lite-BITE® boxes have been hugely popular and sales have continued to grow with over 250 shops now using the boxes and buying over 700,000 in the last year.
“The independent takeaway sector is one of the most challenging food sectors to work with to make changes. This research emphasises the importance of working with wholesale suppliers, who have a strong relationship with traders, to improve the health benefits of hot food takeaways – and Henry Colbeck have taken a lead in that, understanding the changing market and giving customers what they want, a lighter meal.”