By Cara Sulieman
SCOTTISH shellfish farmers are set to get a boost this festive season as households across the country opt for a posh Christmas lunch despite the credit crunch.
Oysters and mussels are fast becoming a must have festive favourite for dining rooms across the UK – replacing smoked salmon and prawn cocktail as the fish course of choice.
The Scottish Shellfish Marketing Group saw sales soar in 2008, and say they are expecting a similar tale this year.
They say a combination of hit TV cookery shows and changing tastes are responsible for the boom.
“Traditional peak demand”
Oysters proved to be the most popular, with sales rising three times over last year, and the sale of mussels doubled.
Stephen Cameron, the managing director of Scottish Shellfish, said that it was the perfect Christmas present for the farmers, who will be working overtime to make sure there are enough tasty treats to go around.
He said: “Sales of mussels and oysters have been growing year-on-year and there is always a traditional peak demand in the week before Christmas.
“This peak occurs over a very short period of time, so it is a frenetic period of activity for our growers as they brave all kinds of weather conditions to harvest their quality shellfish.
“We believe that a significant part of this growing interest in mussels and oysters is due to the upsurge in cookery programmes on television.
“These delicious shellfish are simple to prepare and don’t require elaborate sauces or cooking techniques. “
A more adventurous and health-conscious society has also been a plus, with people looking for something different for their visitors this Christmas.
Stephen added: “We are finding that consumers are becoming more adventurous in their tastes, with Scottish mussels and oysters making a superb and tasty alternative to more traditional Christmas fare such as smoked salmon and prawn cocktail.
“They are also very healthy being low in calories and fat. They are excellent source of protein, vitamins and Omega-3 oils that help reduce the risk of heart disease.
“People are also attracted by the fact that Scottish mussels are sustainably grown with virtually no environmental impact.”