Recent research conducted by the University of Salford has revealed that chefs could save nearly £200m a year by switching from warm water prawns to cold water prawns.
Prawn dishes account for 40% of all seafood eaten out of home, with prawn cocktail still being the most popular dish and accounting for 10% of all seafood dishes. According to the findings, the taste and texture of cold water prawns is more suited to cold dishes, so the chef would experience twice the benefit by using the cheaper cold water prawns for this British classic.
The research, which was commissioned on behalf of Royal Greenland, compared the cost of making five of the most popular prawn dishes for the hospitality sector: prawn and Marie sauce sandwich, classic prawn cocktail, prawn salad with a dill dressing, prawns with pasta and garlic butter dressing, and seafood paella. The university carried out like-for-like comparisons with frozen cooked and peeled warm water prawns and frozen cooked and peeled cold water prawns.
The results concluded that all the meals examined would typically cost 15% less to make if cold water prawns were used. The savings escalated when compared to unpeeled warm water prawns, where a classic prawn cocktail can cost as much as 23% more.
Ole Kragh Malle, senior project manager at Royal Greenland, said: "The aim of this report is to demonstrate to chefs and caterers the cost advantages of using cold water prawns in these popular dishes.
"Over the past few years, warm water prawns have become more ‘fashionable' and chefs have been tempted to use them in more and more dishes which are traditionally more suited to cold water prawns. This is largely due to the perception from the consumer that warm water prawns look more impressive and therefore offer better value for money. In actual fact, the dish would taste better if cold water prawns were used and the chef/caterer would save money in the process.
"Through previous research we have conducted with Seafish, we found that chefs and consumers do not understand the difference between warm water and cold water prawns and buy and cook with them in the same way. Our communications campaign for 2014 will focus on educating consumers and chefs around the differences between the varieties, the cost and the taste benefits of using cold water prawns in these popular prawn dishes."