Fish and chip shops are under threat due to rising inflation

One-third of the country’s nearly 10,000 fish-and-chip restaurants could close in the next nine months, said Andrew Crook, president of the National Federation of Fish Fryers. He told CNN Business that the crisis was the worst he had ever seen.

The trade group represents 1,200 fish-and-chip businesses and has been running for over a century.

Crook, who owns his own shop, says prices began to rise late last year, but in late February, prices of key ingredients have risen since Russia invaded Ukraine.

“Across the board, everything has gone up,” Crook said.

Businesses across the industry are struggling with rising prices as supply chain snarls increase due to the war in Ukraine. But British fish and chip shops, which traditionally operate under very narrow margins, are feeling a particular pressure due to the industry’s reliance on Russian imports.

Up to 40% of the industry’s cod and haddock come from Russian waters, and about half of its sunflower oil is imported from Ukraine, Crook said.

According to Crook, businesses are paying about 83% more for sunflower oil than in early March. Palm oil, a common alternative, has doubled in price. Indonesia – the world’s largest exporter of palm oil – began restricting exports last month to help maintain domestic supplies.
Rising prices of fuel bills and fertilizers required for potato cultivation.

Fish and Chips is an unofficial national dish in the United Kingdom. According to the trade group, the first stores opened in the 1860s and spread rapidly as the country became more industrialized, helping to feed the factory workers. During World War II, the government provided rations of other staple foods, such as tea, butter, meat, fish, and chips, so food was important to the working class.

Consumers expect their fish and chips to be cheaper, Crook said. A year ago, the average price of a regular cod and chips would be around £ 7, Crook said. Now, he estimates it’s about £ 8.50 – a 21% increase.

“We’re risking our own pricing out of the market … We’re trying to keep growth as low as possible,” Crook said. Some have already turned their backs.

“I lost some regular customers who came every Friday,” he added.

Fears that the UK government would impose tighter import tariffs on Russian white fish have forced businesses to stockpile alternatives, raising the price of Icelandic and Norwegian fish that Crook has bought.

A case of Icelandic cord now costs £ 270 ($ 331), up from £ 140 ($ 176) at this time last year, Crook said.

Businesses like Crook face the toughest task of selling fish and chips to customers facing the worst living crisis in decades. According to the Bank of England, annual consumer inflation reached 7% in March, the highest level in 30 years, and could hit 10% by the end of this year.

More than half a million small businesses in the UK – This is one in about 10 – plans to close, reduce or sell as much funding as it needs to fight to secure next year, according to a survey by the Federation of Small Business.

For Crook, the fate of his shop is personal.

“It’s more than just a job. For many of us, we’ve taken over the family business,” he said. “I’m the second generation in the business – and you don’t want it to fail on your watch.”

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