Fears that a third of fish and chips shops across the UK could close this year - and Blackpool chippies agree

Fish and chips industry leaders say a third of chippies could close this year unless the Government steps in to help – and Blackpool’s fish friers agree.

By Richard Hunt
Wednesday, 18th May 2022, 11:58 am
Updated Wednesday, 18th May 2022, 5:12 pm

Many Blackpool chippy owners say this is the toughest year they’ve ever known and the trade is taking a battering.

A combination of gas and electric price hikes, together with increases in the costs of fish, cooking oil, potatoes and peas mean businesses are facing an unprecedented squeeze.

The National Federation of Fish Friers (NFFF) has warned that all those key ingredients for fish and chips have been impacted on by the on-going conflict between Ukraine and Russia and Ukraine.

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Harrowside Chippy. Pictured is Sue Miller.

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Fish and chip shops are faced with a choice of putting up prices, changing their ingredients – or the worst case scenario of closing down.

Around 50 per cent of sunflower oil used by British chippies comes from Ukraine and up to 40 per cent of white fish coming from Russia, while alternative like palm oil have also rocketed.

Andrew Crook, president of the National Federation of Fish Friers, says the industry is facing a real threat but it does not want a hand-out from the Government.

The manager of the Pisces fish and chip shop in Fleetwood says it is the toughest time ever in the industry

Instead, he says a “long-term strategy” is needed to guide the industry through the crisis.

At the No 3 Chippy on Whitegate Drive, manager Ashley Riches said this week: “Everything has gone up in price in a way it never has in the 14 years I’ve been in the business.

"In many businesses you would just put your prices up, but in our trade you can only go so far.

"If you put your prices up too high people will stop coming in, it’s not so easy just to put the price onto the customer.

Concerns have been raised about prices rises in fish and chips ingredients - and the effects on the industry

"Our prices have had to go up by 10 or 15 pence but that’s it.

"We still don’t know how we are going to square things, it’s a problem.”

She said the chippy still offered regular fish and chips for less than a tenner.

A spokesman at the Yorkshire Fisheries, on Topping Street, said: “Everything has gone up and it has happened at the same time as the big rise in fuel bills.

"I can see some businesses saying it is not worth all the hassle and hard work, because the profit margin is going down because of all this.”

In Fleetwood, Charles Cummins, manager of Pisces Fish and Chips, on Poulton Road, said: “A 45lb case of white fish which cost £140 in January now costs £240, it’s virtually doubled.

"With everything else going up at the same time, the price of fish and chips is going to haver to rise, otherwise chippies will be selling it at coist price and they’ll go bust.

"I’ve been in this industry 34 years, through some tough times, but this is the worst time ever.

"I’m not sure how people will come through it.”

Last month one Blackpool fish and chips proprietor said he had already been forced to put a £1.45 price rise on each regular sized fish and chips portion since January – and he anticipated further rises to come.

He says it has been the ‘toughest time’ in his 30 years in the industry.Another experienced fish and chip boss said the problems were ‘horrendous’ and she wondered if some businesses would survive.Kevin Coward, of the C Fresh fish and chips in Foxhall Road, said: “I’ve been in the industry around 30 years and these are the worst times I have ever experienced.

"The cost of our cooking oil has doubled since January – even the cost of peas has doubled, and that’s happened at the same times as gas and electric have gone through the roof.

"Since January our regular fish and chips prices have risen from £5.50 to £6.95 and we’ve been told that a increase in the price of fertilizer will effect the wholesale cost of potatoes this summer, so chips will have to go up.

"Our shop is more seasonal, we have a lot of custom from tourists which help, but even we are affected."For some other fish and chip shops, it’s going to be even tougher.”Sue Miller, proprietor of award-winning Harrowside Fish and Chips, on Harrowside, South Shore, said: “It’s horrendous, I don’t now how some businesses will survive."We’ve been trying to delay putting up our prices but we’ll have no choice.

"All of these things have happened at once – the Ukraine war has affected fish and oil prices, and the fuel bills are killing us."We need to use lots of gas and electric to fry our fish, and the affects of the rises are astronomical."We use palm oil, so that’s another problem.”Although a successful takeaway, Sue says the Harrowside cafe has not been able to reopen since the Covid closures because of problems getting staff.