The war in Ukraine could spell an end to the Great British Chippy Tea.
Britain depends on Ukraine for sunflower oil and Russia for white fish – leaving British chip ships in a very precarious situation.
Much of the fertiliser that British farmers rely on for their potato crops comes from Russia, and it has tripled in price in recent months. Add in the effect that the war is having on the price of flour – used for the batter that makes our fish and chips so special – and you have a perfect storm for chip shop owners.
The National Federation of Fish Friers (NFFF) has warned that with all four of the main ingredients in a classic fish supper under threat, owners are being forced to alter their menus, raise prices, and in some sad cases, close down altogether.
NFFF president, Andrew Crook is asking for government support to help the industry recover from the double hit from the war in Ukraine and the Covid pandemic.
He said: “We need action before long-term damage is done that can’t be repaired.
“We aren’t after handouts. We are a proud industry. But a lot of businesses will go to the wall and we need a long-term strategy to see us through.”
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George Morey is the manager of a family-owned chippy in Glastonbury, Knights, which is thought to be one of the oldest chip shops in the country.
He told Sky News that the war in Ukraine could spell the end for the business.
“Will we have to consider finding another product for the menu to replace fish and chips – could the impact be that extreme?” he said.
“I think if prices keep increasing, it may be a thing we keep in mind.
“We have to prepare ourselves for the worst times ahead, and I think it’s possibly the biggest challenge the fish and chip industry has faced, ever.”
Major UK supermarkets have already started rationing cooking oil in a bid to deal with the Ukraine crisis.
Last month, Tesco allowed three items per customer while Waitrose and Morrisons placed limits of just two items each.
Market research group Kantar has identified a significant spike in cooking oil sales as customers “stock up” in anticipation of an even greater shortage.
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