Now palm oil export ban leads to more pressure for fish and chip shops

The fish and chips industry in Blackpool is already facing its toughest time in decades – and new developments in the Far East looks set to add to the pressures.

By Richard Hunt
Monday, 25th April 2022, 5:16 pm
Updated Monday, 25th April 2022, 5:49 pm

With the industry already reeling from the effects on fish and oil prices caused by the war in Ukraine, in addition to major gas and electric bill hikes, Indonesia is now clamping down on exports of palm oil.

Many fish and chip shops use palm oil to as a frying agent, but now this supply is under threat.

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.

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C Fresh Fish and Chips on Foxhall Road, Blackjpool

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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.

The Indonesian government has slapped a blanket ban on palm oil exports as the country itself has seen the cost of imported food surge because of the war in Ukraine.

Fish and chip shops in Blackpool and across the UK are feeling the squeeze because of a string of factors/

This now means that that not only has palm oil become a scarcer commodity, but its international price has rocketed.

Back in February, Chorley-based Andrew Crook, of the National Federation of Fish Friers, voiced fears that several of the takeaways which have become such a familiar feature of our streets for so long might not survive.

This week 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.

Sue Miller, of the Harrowside Chippy

"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.

"We’re told there are going to be even more gas and electric rises in the autumn and now we hear that palm oil has been affected.

"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.

She said: “Before Covid we would have up to 12 staff at our busiest times, but we only have seven at the moment.

"I can’t explain why – we pay more than minimum wage but we just can’t get them so the cafe has had to stay shut.

"I have never known things so tough, and I’ve been doing this more than 30 years.”

Chorley-based Andrew Crook, of the National Federation of Fish Friers, says the industry is resilient and has been written off before.

But he said: “Certainly, the increased costs of everything might be too much for some of the smaller shops and we might be left with chains.”