Will American fish save our chippies? Massive rise in the cost of cod and haddock is forcing firms to look for cheaper alternatives
- Rising cost and tariff on Russian white fish has sent prices soaring this year
- Options include rockfish or Pacific perch, and hake, abundant on US West Coast
- Britons consume a staggering 380 million portions of fish and chips every year
British chippies battling soaring prices could start serving fish imported from the US by the end of this year.
A huge rise in the cost of cod and haddock, alongside a tariff on Russian white fish, is forcing firms to look for cheaper alternatives, including rockfish, also known as Pacific perch, and hake, which the US west coast has in abundance. They both taste similar to cod.
Andrew Crook, president of the National Federation of Fish Friers, visited Oregon last month as part of a delegation from the UK seafood industry.
He said the huge surplus of fish in the US could ‘take the pressure off’ needing to find expensive supplies closer to home.
Vinegar firm Sarson’s warned that half of Britain’s fish and chip shops could be forced to shut in the next three years because of rising prices.
Taking a battering: British chippies battling soaring prices could start serving fish imported from the US by the end of this year as they seek cheaper alternatives (File photo)
There are 10,500 chippies in the UK and we eat 380 million portions of fish and chips a year.
Mr Crook, who runs Skippers Fish & Chips in Euxton, Lancashire, added: ‘Most people, when they come into a fish and chip shop, either want cod or haddock. They know what they want before they come through the door. And getting people to change is very difficult.’
It will probably take a few months to get samples over from the US.
Mr Crook said: ‘We’ve got to explore alternatives because it’s the right thing to do to protect the fish and chip industry.’
There are 10,500 chippies in the UK and Brits eat 380 million portions of fish and chips a year (File photo)
Prices have skyrocketed since a tariff on Russian white fish was imposed after Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine in February last year.
Cod, which peaked at £240 for 18kg, has fallen to around £206. And potatoes are up from £8 to £25 for 25kg.
Mr Crook added: ‘The entire system needs a rethink and we need to create a strong, independent hospitality industry.
‘I hope the Government has a plan in the Autumn Statement for growth because independent businesses are just about keeping their head above water. If we lose these businesses, we’ll never get them back.’
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