FISH and chips is still the most popular takeaway in the UK, with around 382 million portions eaten every year.

And Bournemouth is now officially on the industry’s map.

For the first time the town is hosting the biggest trade show for independent chip shops, FRY IT.

Around 1,400 fryers and suppliers will arrive at the BIC next Sunday for the event organised by Friars Pride.

So why Bournemouth?

Marketing director Louise Marshall told the Echo: “When we acquired Doubles Food and Drink in Poole in 2013, it gave us a strong presence in the region.

“So bringing the show to Bournemouth is a great way for us to get closer to our customers.

“There are hundreds of independent retailers operating throughout the south and South West and this is our chance to meet many of them for the first time – and explain how we can help new shops get started and existing ones to grow.”

Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch has more than 100 fish-and-chip outlets.

Just a short stroll from the venue is the iconic Harry Ramsden’s, the largest fish and chip restaurant in the world.

Following a £1 million refurbishment, the restaurant now caters for 417 diners, employs 125 people and expects to serve more than a million customers a year.

That’s 268 tonnes of chips, 90 tonnes of cod, 21 tonnes of mushy peas, 10 tonnes of tartare sauce and 8 tonnes of ketchup.

A few miles away in Westbourne is the family-run Chez Fred, which was ranked among the Sunday Times’ ‘Top 130 restaurants to eat out for under £50’ for the second year running.

“There has been a huge change in the perception of what a fish-and-chip shop can be,” says owner Fred Capel, who is also a panel member at the National Federation of Fish Friers (NFFF) awards.

“People used to think it was an easy option. Now chefs are coming in and giving it a hell of a lot of respect.”

Not least Rick Stein, rumoured to be interested in the now-vacant Café Shore at Sandbanks. Nearby, Lakeside Fish and Chips at Lifeboat Quay, Poole, was one of 12 shortlisted as one of the UK’s top 12 in a national competition and a finalist in the Independent Fish and Chip Restaurant of the Year.

So where is fish and chips in the healthy eating pecking order? Not where you’d expect. According to the NFFF, the meal provides one-third of the recommended daily allowance of vitamins for men and nearly half for women. The saturated fat content for an average portion of fish, chips and peas is just 2.8%, compared with 13.2% in an individual pork pie and 14.9% in a chicken salad wrap.

The FRY IT show opens on Sunday March 1 at Bournemouth International Centre.