Fish Maths


I was getting very frustrated this week as regards fish prices in supermarkets. As I mooch around, I look at fish quality, packing and labeling. The fact is, that people don’t seem to understand some pricing differentials. Actually, let me rephrase that. People do not seem to appreciate how to get value for money. I have preached on many occasions about working to be an educated buyer or do people care? I certainly always look for value for money. But what I seem in a lot of supermarkets is NOT ‘value for money’, just a ‘rip off’.

So, let’s look at a cheap fish, which is a best seller in supermarkets, Basa, and compare with a British favourite Atlantic cod. As mentioned on various occasions, Basa or Pangasius is actually a farmed river cat fish mainly from Vietnam. When processed into fillets and sold, their price is about HKD 30 p/kg. But let’s analyse that a little. In processing, the Basa fish meat will have gone through a ‘take up ‘procedure, where it is soaked in detergents, and amino acids are added for flavour and to hold the meat together. This is at least 10% in weight. So even at this juncture, you are only getting 90% of original meat, which takes the actual price to 33.5HKD. On being sold, the fish will probably have about 15% glaze, sometimes a s much as 20%. But for the purpose of this analyse let’s say 15%. Using the same calculation, you are now getting even less actual meat and the price for that meat increases to HKD 40. That’s a 25% increase on the meat because of additives.

Atlantic cod fillets, the best from Iceland, you can probably purchase for USD 8, which is HKD 62. This has no additives and has no take up. It might have a glaze of 5% for protection so actual price increases to HKD 66. ‘OK’, that is 1 and a half times the price of Basa. But wouldn’t and educated buyer not prefer a wild caught, naturally flavoured fish against a farmed reared, additive infused one? I certainly do not touch Basa.

OK, take a first step on being educated. READ THE LABELS on the packs. They should state clearly if there are additives in the fish and also indicate net weight versus gross weight. In Hong Kong, this is normally expressed numerically like 10%/90%. Just this little step will make you more informed and you can really determine whether you are getting value for money.

On that note, go you our website and get your Atlantic Cod.


CCH 03092020

Share this post: