With so many pressures on fish, from supply to prices, we talk to Andy Hunter, sales director at frozen at sea fillets importer Polarfrost, a subsidiary of Young’s Seafood, to find out how operators can best ride out the storm

What are you seeing in terms of prices? Price is the most talked about thing at the moment. We’ve seen prices increase on cod and haddock probably 40% in 12 months so it’s a huge problem for fish and chip shops, and they are starting to question how they can continue to run their businesses. I heard a comment that potentially a third of fish and chip shops could close down and, while I don’t think that will happen, a huge number will be in trouble. We are hearing a lot of misinformation about the rising prices of fish at the moment, it’s been blamed on the war in Ukraine, and it’s been blamed on tariffs, both of which are incorrect. It’s fundamentally down to the lack of supply that started last summer and resulted from poor fishing and a reduction in quotas. But these prices are here to stay, we’re not going to see a sudden drop and everything will be 30%

cheaper, fish is a worldwide commodity product and there’s a greater global demand than ever before. Sometimes there’s simply less available, more demand and so the price goes up. When can you see prices stabilising? There’s a little bit more fish being landed now, but I don’t see prices coming down in a significant way this year. The next time that they will possibly come down will be in 2023, but that will depend on quotas being increased and fishing capability; sometimes the quota is there but the boats don’t catch the fish. It is very difficult to know what will happen in each 12-month period. What can operators do to best address the situation? The majority of shops, if they want to continue to serve cod and haddock, (which I can’t see changing), have to

look at being a little bit more flexible with what they’re buying. Generally, shops buy a fish size that is between 8-16 ounces and 16-32 ounces but if they were to buy smaller fillets, they’d save money. Smaller portion sizes are happening across all industries, from a diet/calories point of view and also due to costs. I understand that operators might not want to do this because they’re concerned it will reduce business, but it comes back to the same thing, people have to start looking more carefully at what’s available. A smaller, say 3-5 ounce piece of fish, which is a perfectly good meal size, is probably 40- 50% cheaper and would bring costs right back down to what they were a year ago. Do you advocate shops putting their prices up? Yes, I would say don’t be afraid to put prices up. There’s quite a long-standing



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