By freezing our fish, we are able to offer the best possible range

Who We Are

I’m Alistair Blair and I founded The Fish Society. We are a small company with 25 employees, based near Guildford. Guildford is forty miles from the sea and a hundred miles from the nearest fishing port, but it’s where I lived when I started The Fish Society 25 years ago. And it’s where fish arrives every morning, despatched by our 150 suppliers the day before via the UK’s very efficient fish delivery network. Fish landed and auctioned on Day 1 in Cornwall, The Hebrides, Aberdeen and Norfolk, and indeed in the big French port of Boulogne can be processed and frozen by us on Day 2.

All our fish (bar a few specialist items such as caviar) is frozen. We believe that fish frozen quickly after landing is indistinguishable from fresh fish when it is cooked and on the plate. And indeed superior to the defrosted fish presented as fresh in supermarkets. And by insisting on freezing all our fish, we are able to offer the widest possible range at all times. I am sure that no other company in the world offers such a huge range as ours.

We dispatch over 1,000 orders a week

Our Story

25 years ago, I was a journalist working in London, with a hankering to set up my own fish company offering customers a much wider range of fish than was available in supermarkets. Cod, haddock and plaice are very fine, but where was the turbot, Dover sole, lobster and crab? The Fish Society placed its first advert and sent out its first price list - a single laser-printed page - in 1994. I fulfilled the first orders by moonlighting between journalistic assignments. In those days I offered one delivery day every three months. After a couple of years we got to a delivery day every month. Much later, by that time with a couple of employees, we got to one a week. The internet arrived and we set up the UK’s first dedicated fish retail website. I wrote my last magazine column in 2012. We now despatch over a thousand orders every week. (And we’re aiming for 5,000.)

We’re 100% Committed to Frozen

First of all, we’re 100% committed to frozen. All fishmongers rely on frozen fish for at least some of their range - otherwise they’d have no prawns. And when fresh fish is scarce they might offer frozen as a fallback. But we believe that unless you’re buying fresh fish at the port to eat today or tomorrow, frozen is typically superior - as long as the fish being frozen is of the highest quality. Distance delivery of fish is an expensive business. You need fast delivery and sophisticated packaging - so it's absolutely pointless to send out anything other than top quality fish.

It’s much better to buy fish frozen super-fast in a commercial plant, then expertly labeled and packed, and delivered to you still frozen - than to buy fresh fish and freeze it slowly in your home freezer.

We believe our fish will give you the same eating experience as buying fish at the quayside and eating it straight away

Why do we only offer frozen fish?

We believe that freezing fish soon after it is landed (typically within 1-4 days depending on the type of fish and where it is coming from) gives you a better experience than eating fresh fish which may be kept chilled for a week or longer before it reaches your plate. Committing to frozen also means we can offer you the widest range of fish, of the highest quality, at all times. Some fish are available only intermittently. Most fish are at their best for just a few months of the year - this is the fish we want you to enjoy.We believe that OUR frozen fish will give you the same eating experience as buying fish at the quayside and eating it straight away.

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What Determines The Quality of Fish?

Following the "cod wars" of the 1970s it is unusual for fishing trips to last longer than a week and poor quality long trip fish has become a thing of the past. There are still discernible variations in quality and "day boat fish" (from a fishing trip of 1-2 days) commands the highest prices, but fresh no longer means superior.

These days, quality is determined by when, where and how the fish is caught, and how it is looked after between catching and delivery to your fridge or freezer.A good fresh fish display looks wonderful, but it takes its toll on the fish. Exposure to the air degrades fish. Everyone knows how tired the display can look at the end of the day. Some of the best fish is caught by specialised vessels which freeze their catch on board within hours. Our hook and line caught cod and haddock fillets from the well managed waters of Norway cost more than much of the cod and haddock landed fresh for processing onshore. This is because they are superior.

Why We’re Different

Of course, we are also committed to quality. If our fish did not exceed the quality available in supermarkets, we wouldn’t have a business. Quality is not just a matter of freshness. It’s also about cut and trim. We will sell you a whole fillet if that’s what you want, but most of our customers are looking for the prime piece of the fillet - what we call a fillet steak. They don’t want a Dover sole that’s too small to satisfy. They don’t want inferior grades of crab meat - they want claw meat. Over nearly 25 years we have discerned exactly what our very discerning customers want and that is what we give them.

And we are about service. It’s hard to convey the full meaning of what we see as good service, but it comes down to: 'Go the extra mile' and 'Do as you would be done by'. We try to apply the same attention to detail that we apply to cuts of fish and the delivery process to every aspect of our customer relationships. 

If our fish did not exceed the quality available in supermarkets, we wouldn’t have a business!

"If Our Fish Did Not Exceed The Quality Available in Supermarkets, We Wouldn’t Have a Business" Alistair Blair


We donate regularly to marine sustainability organisations and worthy initiatives. Previous donations have been to Blue Marine Foundation, The National Lobster Hatchery and Marine Stewardship Council.

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