Fresh Fish: Australian and UK Prices Compared

Two weeks ago we looked at Fresh Fruit and Veg: Australian and UK Prices Compared and last week it was Fresh Meat: Australian and UK Prices Compared. Today we complete our trilogy by looking at the price of fresh fish.

fresh-fish Head

Not so much whole fish, we are mostly going to be looking at fillets of fish.

pink-salmon Owen-Wahl

How I selected my fish

This was always going to be the most difficult comparison of the three because of the different kinds of fish readily available in each of our countries. The UK doesn’t have shark, Australia doesn’t have cod. The UK doesn’t have hoki, Australia doesn’t have haddock. You get the idea.

So for this comparison I looked at the cheapest five available fresh fish from Tesco’s in the UK and Woolworths in Australia, then four of the most expensive. Finally, I had to buy some prawns for the barbie.

I ignored whole fish, dyed fish, smoked fish, seasoned fish, bugs, crabs, scallops and roe, choosing fillets only, except in the case of those prawns.

I got fresh fish from both; at Tesco’s I only selected products from the fishmonger’s counter and in Woolworths fish that was priced per kilogram from the fresh fish section. The only exception to that was the Freshwater Basa Fillets which did come from the frozen and thawed seafood section, simply because there weren’t quite enough fillets of fish in the fresh section.

That said, the Tesco fish mostly appear to have been caught elsewhere and then frozen before being shipped to the UK. So I would suggest that their fish was more like the fish that I could have got from the Woolworths’ frozen and thawed section.

On the other hand, most of the Australian fish was described as fresh and therefore, I assume, caught reasonably locally and delivered fresh to the supermarket. I could have bought cheaper Australian fish as well if I had bought more from the frozen and thawed seafood section.

For example, I could have got a kilo of thawed New Zealand hoki skinless fillets or a kilo of imported barramundi fillets for just $19.99.

My guess would be then that the quality of Australian fish is superior.

For any fish that was on special offer in either supermarket, I used the regular price.

Finally, selecting like for like prawns was an absolute nightmare. I never knew prawns could come in so many different ways. There are cooked prawns, uncooked prawns, whole prawns, peeled prawns, prawns with their tails on, medium prawns, large prawns, extra large prawns and jumbo prawns.

Could I find the exact same prawns on both Tesco and Woolworths? Not a chance.

This is Australia though, I couldn’t possibly miss prawns out. So I did the best I could, but I realise they are not like for like.

Fresh fish shopping

When Mrs Bob knew I was doing a cost comparison on fish, she warned me that fish in Australia was ridiculously expensive. She said she couldn’t understand why, considering we were surrounded by water everywhere.

In my best effort to appear to be wise and intelligent, I suggested that everywhere in the world was surrounded by lots of water, but unlike Asia, the Americas and Europe, we don’t have too much cheap labour around these parts. So our fishermen probably don’t work cheap.

Between you and I though, I have no idea. Let’s check out the prices of fish.

Australian fish prices

Australian fish pricesUK fish prices

UK fish pricesSources: Tesco and Woolworths

Remember, for each country I simply selected five of the cheapest and four of the most expensive fillets of fish and added some prawns. It was impossible to buy the same fish, so this whole comparison, not just the prawns, is clearly not like for like.

So it would be futile to compare prices.

But I will, I just can’t resist it. The UK fish cost £146.59, equivalent to $284.38 at today’s exchange rate of around 1.94 Australian dollars to the pound.

So, the Australian fish, even though it may be fresher is still a few cents short of $15 cheaper, or about 5% less.

When I announced the news to Mrs Bob this evening that Australian fish does actually appear to be cheaper than the UK’s, she said “Well it doesn’t feel like it“.

Maybe it doesn’t, but it looks as though it is.

This may not be a true comparison, I know, but I do hope that it does give you some idea of the price of fresh fish in the UK and Australia compared.

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{ 7 comments… add one }
  • billabong September 6, 2019, 5:03 pm |

    I grew up in the UK about 80 miles from the sea. Now I live in Melbourne. When I go back to “the old country” I delight in the fish of my youth – halibut, cod, and monkfish. These were really fresh – bought from a local market where they had been brought overnight from the previous day’s catch at one of the east coast fishing towns. Cooked simply by my mum (RIP) – nothing fancy – they were delicious! I would argue that there is no fish in Australia comparable to any of these whitefish – perhaps King George whiting and flathead come the closest. On the other hand Australia has tuna (and marlin) of a quality that one cannot find in the UK. Stargazer is available here in Melbourne and is “billed” as monkfish. It is not as firm as the Northern Hemisphere version but is not bad.

    I’d agree with “Mrs Bob” that fish certainly feels more expensive in Australia and seems to be increasing in price at a rate well in excess of inflation. I put this down to overfishing and increasing demand. At the local market I would this week pay $45/kg for tuna which is in line (2 years later) with your UK price.

    • BobinOz September 6, 2019, 9:10 pm |

      I was in Tasmania a few months ago, we went to a fish restaurant that served fresh locally caught fish and it was absolutely beautiful. I can’t even remember what it was, but it was really quite exceptional.

      So I’m a bit surprised there isn’t some decent fish being caught off of Melbourne, after all, they are not ‘that’ far away. Maybe far enough away to make a difference though.

      When I lived in the UK a friend of mine was a fisherman, and he said to me with a very serious face one day, “Bob, never ever eat cod.” And he would never tell me why, but from the way he delivered it, there was clearly something quite disgusting about the cod.

      If anybody knows what it is, I’d love to hear it.

  • jason February 3, 2019, 4:45 am |

    god you must be the dumbest person to ever write on a blog.
    what a load of crap.

    Do something else.

  • J.frost May 6, 2016, 7:17 am |

    Great post indeed. I do find it hard to get decent fresh fish in the UK when compared with Australia. I have found shellfish a little more comparable to the quality and price in Australia but I suppose a bit area dependant as you would expect and when you can find quality be prepared to pay for it! I think demand is higher in the general population in Oz but just a guess!

    • BobinOz May 6, 2016, 7:22 pm |

      Yes, where you live does make a difference. When I lived in the UK, I was just a short drive from Leigh on Sea, that’s where the cockle sheds were. We could pick up plenty of decently priced fish and shellfish, fresh too.

      But as Joanne has said below, she lives in the Midlands, it’s hard to get anything fresh there.

  • Joanne O'Driscoll May 5, 2016, 2:40 pm |

    Interest post :-). Having recently moved to Melbourne from the UK I am often struck by some of the price differences of some of the items. Coming from the Midlands, getting ‘fresh’ fish was always a problem so we often wouldn’t bother as it was expensive and lucky to last a day. Moving here has been great to get fresh and frozen fish (and prawns of course!) and although it’s still too pricey to buy everyday, at least you are getting the quality and variety here.

    • BobinOz May 5, 2016, 11:54 pm |

      Yes, fish isn’t really cheap, not in either country. But as you say, I do think it is better quality fish here, certainly fresher. It’s not an everyday thing, but we usually try to have fish at least once a week. Very nice.

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