Fish Fingers – Journeying to your fridge using Big Data Analytics

Nearly 60 years since Clarence Birdseye invented the delicious fish finger, they have become an essential English teatime treat that is savoured by the young and old.

The Fish Fingers Journey

Since their introduction to the UK in 1955, billions of fish fingers have been sold throughout the UK and Europe. “Within a decade of its launch, the fish finger accounted for 10 per cent of British fish consumption. Today they are eaten regularly in half of Britain’s homes.” (Source: The Mirror)

Building on the success of the fish finger, the Iglo Group has since become Europe’s leading branded frozen food business both in terms of sales and brand recognition.

Today, the company faces tough competition from supermarkets and private branded frozen food suppliers – all of whom are keen to capitalise on the success of the fish finger.

Maintaining loyalty with the end-customer base is therefore essential to the company’s continued growth and success. Fish fingers are one of Iglo’s iconic brands.

They have been there since the company started nearly sixty years ago.

“We need to try and maintain the edge with the retailers and consumers in particular,” says Prinsloo.

Speaking before an audience of 500 business and technology leaders at Whitehall Media’s 5th bi-annual Big Data Analytics conference in June 2014, Prinsloo explained that the company sells 2 billion fish fingers every year. This translates into 5.6 million fish fingers consumed daily. That’s enough to wrap around the world five times.

Where might Big Data Analytics help enterprises?

Maintaining loyalty among consumers and satisfying their culinary tastes requires Iglo Group to assess and evaluate its supply chain. And this is where big data is essential to deciphering trends and explaining variations.

The fish used by Birds Eye products is typically caught off the Russian seas, transported to China where it is cleaned and later transported to Germany where fish fingers are produced. This is a long value chain that can take a number of months, according to Prinsloo.

Supply chains can vary according to type of fish: Cod and Pollack for example are caught at different times of the year, in different locations, and follow a different supply chain cycle.

To ensure customer satisfaction, Iglo Group assesses Complaints per Million (CPM) – a mechanism used in the food industry to better understand trends in consumer feedback.

By capitalising on big data, Prinsloo says that Iglo Group is able to hypothesise plausible explanations for variations and trends in customer satisfaction. These explanations can typically involve cultural differences (certain countries complain more than others), weather and timing (which can have a significant influence on the supply chain and end-product) as well as other variances in the supply chain itself.

Big data is thus helping Iglo Group to better monitor its performance and continue what Prinsloo terms “its fish finger superiority.” But capitalising on what big data can offer a business means you have to be prepared to think outside of the box.

“We look at data in certain ways. We jump to conclusions. We don’t always see all the things that are in front of us,” says Prinsloo.

By way of advice to other businesses, Prinsloo asks:

“How often do we stop and think? I’ve once been challenged by a person who said: Do you have the confidence to take two hours out per week and just use that time to stop and think?”

“That’s what we’re trying to do at Birds Eye. I would encourage you to do the same.”

To hear case studies of big data deployments, benefits, risks and rewards – join Whitehall Media’s 6th bi-annual Big Data Analytics conference which is to be held on 13 November 2014 at the Hotel Russell in central London. To register your place to attend, visit:

Conference photography at Whitehall Media's Big Data Analytics event, BDA,  at the Russell Hotel, LondonConference photography at Whitehall Media's Big Data Analytics event, BDA,  at the Russell Hotel, London