The end of fish and chips? Rising prices threaten a British tradition -Breaking
© Reuters. Bally Singh is the owner of Hooked Fish and Chips. He poses in front his West Drayton take-away on May 25, 2022. Picture taken May 25, 2022. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
By Alistair Smout and Lucy Towers
WEST DRAYTON, England (Reuters] – Bally Singh at Hooked Fish and Chips in west London is struggling to make a living from a British custom. Prices for food, oil, and flour have soared.
Singh is one of thousands of “chippies”, who are working hard to keep their customers happy by putting up oil friers and letting them stay at home.
Singh said that the fish and oil prices had risen astronomically; they have also risen extortionately, and all of our products have gone up astronomically,” Reuters reported.
Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister of Boris Johnson promised that he would “build back batter” after the pandemic.
But rising prices have thrown Britain’s economy off its course. Company Debt reports that a third (or more) of the country’s fish-and-chip shops face imminent bankruptcy due to rising prices.
Company Debt reported that in just one year prices for Britain’s favorite fish, cod and haddock, rose 75% and sunflower oil went up 60% respectively, while flour was up 40%.
The G7’s highest inflation rate, 9%, reached its 40-year high in April. It is expected to continue rising. British consumers tend to be more pessimistic that their European counterparts, which has led to criticism of the Bank of England and government efforts to control inflation.
Singh’s store sells cod and chips for 9.50 pounds, which is a significant increase from 7.95 pounds one year ago. Singh claimed that the prices would rise to closer 11 pounds if Singh passed along all of the more expensive items.
It’s becoming difficult for us to maintain reasonable prices compared with the other local fast-food restaurants. We’ve also seen an actual decline in customers and fish sales.
Swanage is a southern coastal town. Customers said that Britain’s inflation problem required them to make difficult choices.
Paula Williams, 66-year-old carer from Weymouth said that it was okay to get one portion but not for others. She is sitting on a bench near the Fish Plaice Shop.
It’s more costly to go out for a meal with a small group, such as five or six people.
RUSSIAN FISH FEEDS BRITAIN
Since 160 years ago, Britons have been enjoying fried chips and battered fish.
It is a traditional British meal that was never rationed. The distinctive oily and vinegar-smelling chippies are still a common sight in many towns.
According to UK Fisheries distant-waters, some of the current difficulties faced by fish and chip shops resulted from Brexit. They estimate that Britain will have to catch around 40% more Arctic cod than it did before the EU left.
Russia’s invasion in Ukraine caused an increase in fuel prices and electricity. This has further increased the price of fish catching and processing. Prices for cooking oil, fertilizer and flour have also risen due to the war.
Haddock and cod are found in the Barents Sea north of Norway, Russia and Norway. The war has increased uncertainty about those supplies.
British officials listed Russian whitefish as one of the items to face a 35% tariff in March as part sanctions against Ukraine. The move has been halted while it is examined.
The UK imports mainly sunflower oil from Ukraine. However, the UK government claims it’s working to replace it with vegetable oils. For instance, it received extra rapeseeds shipments from Australia following a good harvest.
A spokesperson for Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs said it was “working closely with industry, including the National Federation of Fish Friers, to mitigate the challenges that they are facing.”
The federation stated that fish and chips shops are facing the worst crisis they have ever faced.
Andrew Crook, president of the NFFF, told Reuters: “I get daily phone calls [from people] that are concerned that they’re going out of business.”
‘POOR MAN’S MEAL’
Springboard Footfall Data shows that British High Street shoppers are down 15% from pre-pandemic levels.
Yael selfin, chief economist at KPMG UK explained to Reuters that fish and chip shops are more vulnerable then other businesses because they have less buying power.
Selfin stated, “We expect consumers and households will reassess their spending and possibly cut back.”
Singh recently renovated his West Drayton store, in a suburban of Johnson’s parliamentary constituency. He is trying to reduce costs so has included cheaper hake or pollock. The energy-intensive cookers must stay.
He stated, “If no one’s coming in we’re losing money”
Malcolm Petherick (73), a builder in Swanage is concerned that Britain might lose a piece of its cultural heritage due to the changes he witnessed over his life.
He said, “When I was growing-up, it was a hungry man’s dinner.”
“Now I just purchased two packages of fish and chip for 23 pence. Is that possible for a family?