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Keeping check

This year’s National Fish & Chip Day demonstrated just how much of a force to be reckoned with NEODA is. Lynda Simmons, secretary general, explains more about the organisation and what else it does behind the scenes to help drive changes in the fish and chip industry

Now that the dust has settled, how successful was this year’s National Fish & Chip Day?

 We surpassed all expectations this year with substantial increases seen in broadcast, print and social media. With our carefully executed deliveries of top quality portions of fish and chips being given out across London to radio stations and newspapers, we achieved phenomenal exposure from Sara Cox on BBC Radio 2’s Breakfast Show – the UK’s most listened to radio show.  ITV’s Lorraine Kelly show cooked fish and chips and National Fish & Chip Day was mentioned on Talk Sport; BBC’s Radio 2 Drive Time; BBC Five Live; Radio X; Magic FM and Heart Radio across all regions. We also got mentions in both national print and online titles from The Sun, Metro Daily Star, Daily Express The Guardian and The Telegraph. Take a Break magazine ran a competition that has received over 150,000 entries to date and two week’s left to run before the deadline.

As for social media coverage, despite being up against some major political stories, we saw a rise of 8% in the volume of tweets and a reach of 65% of the UK population which was up by 49% on last year. This shows that people really got behind the campaign and enjoyed a feel good story which caught the imagination and attention during these somewhat uncertain times.

What was your highlight of the day?

My personal highlight was working with the winners of the National Fish and Chip Shop of the Year 2017, Kingfisher, at a fabulous location in central London to bring fish and chips to so many people on the day.  It was an amazing day, helped by fantastic weather, and everybody - young and old - enjoyed their award winning fish and chips. I also enjoyed seeing all the photos going online of the amazing events and activities put on by fish and chip shops the length and breadth of the country during the day. The industry certainly went all out and it was great to see many shops enjoying their highest footfall of the year. 

Lynda Simmons (right) with Jo Hague of Rise Communications

What is NEODA?

NEODA stands for the National Edible Oil Distributors’ Association and it is the trade association working on behalf of refiners, processors and distributors of edible oils and fats; waste oil collectors (who also sell fresh oil) as well as manufacturers and suppliers of non-oil products (including batter mix, sausages, packaging, potato preservatives and range manufacturers) and other industry bodies. NEODA has been in existence for over 70 years and has a strong and loyal membership which continues to expand.

Why does NEODA champion National Fish & Chip Day?

NEODA saw an opportunity for the whole industry to come together annually to celebrate their love of this traditional and iconic British dish, from fish and chip shops, pub chains, restaurants, retailers and distributors of oil through to the fishermen and farmers who provide the sustainable and natural ingredients used to create it. Although it had been mentioned in the past, nobody had actually run with the idea and we felt that we were ideally positioned within the industry to do so.

What else does NEODA do to help the fish and chip industry?

We have a series of meetings throughout the year where our members come together to share and discuss ideas that will benefit the industry as a whole going forward. One example is an Oil Monitoring Programme we have been involved in; independently analysing packs of oils and fats from members and non-members to ensure customers and consumers are not misled as to the nature, quality or quantity of oils being sold in the market. Misleading or illegal products that show signs of adulteration, display false claims or are underweight are brought to the attention of both the manufacturer and the Trading Standards Authorities so further action can be taken. So NEODA works tirelessly behind the scenes on behalf of the end users to ensure that the highest standards are met.

What would you say is the organisation’s biggest achievement to date?

Without a doubt, this would have to be National Fish and Chip Day. Since its soft launch in 2015, it has seen phenomenal growth in terms of engagement, coverage and monetary value of the campaign. This year’s event saw the total value of the campaign achieve £1,100.000 and reached a staggering 42 million people, or 65% of the current UK population, which is an awesome result.

What is the NEODA approved logo seen on boxes of oil and fat, and what assurances does it offer?

NEODA’s central principle is adherence to the "Guarantee of Confidence" scheme. The scheme ensures that all packs of edible oil and fat sold and distributed by members, adhere to a strict set of requirements concerning product contents, labelling and pack sizes. Only products that meet this stringent set of criteria can carry a ‘Guarantee of Confidence’ logo. This label assures the quality of products, so consumers can purchase them with complete confidence.

All processor members of NEODA are BRC (British Retail Consortium) accredited to Grade A standard, or recognised equivalent, in order to use the NEODA logo on their products. Non-processor members are encouraged to work towards achieving a recognised quality standard such as ISO, EFSIS or BRC and we are proud that some of our non-processor members have achieved BRC accreditation too, proving that they have what it takes to ensure the integrity of the products they distribute.

How can the industry support NEODA in its efforts?

If shops want to ensure that the oils and fats they are receiving are packed and labelled honestly and legally, they should look out for the NEODA approved logo and only purchase products displaying this logo. With regards to National Fish & Chip Day, we would continue to urge shops to register on the website – and contact their local NEODA member to register their interest in next year’s event which will take place on Friday 1st June 2018.

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