FRY MAY22

BIG INTERVIEW

are receiving more food than they can eat. If you think that you could reduce the size of a piece of fish by 20 or 30%, easily that’s huge mitigation against the price, and that applies to chips as well. You touched on sustainability, is that still as important when weighing up price and availability? It’s an interesting subject because everything that we sell is MSC certified, which I guess is the gold standard. But even if it wasn’t, it wouldn’t make a huge amount of difference to us - and that’s nothing against MSC - but it’s just so important to the frozen at sea cod and haddock industry to operate sustainably that we don’t need to be told to do it, we do it anyway. And as a company, we absolutely cannot get involved in any venture that is not sustainable. Unfortunately, for shops to advertise that they sell MSC they would need to become registered and that can be quite difficult and costly. I think that they can do it another way and that’s by getting that information from their supplier. A shop could put on their menus “supplied by Young’s Seafood” and reference our record of sustainability and principles. Often shops are worried that they have got to pay some kind of a levy to be able to say that something is sustainable, but actually, they don’t, we can give them all the information they need. Do you think the fish and chip industry can survive the pressures it is facing? I think they absolutely can. There’s no doubt that a percentage of shops will fail but the ones who have a passion for it, who live and breathe it, will succeed. They are going to have to start fighting a little bit for some of that business out there though, especially when people have got less money, which they’re going to have over the next year or two. Shops will have to make sure that they do everything they can to make themselves stand out in a difficult marketplace.

Do you think with price being an issue shops may have more success pushing other species of fish now rather than when it was purely about sustainability? Money talks at the end of the day, and if shops start to notice that they’re having to put their prices up to a level where they are worried about fewer people coming through the door, then, yes, I think they will start to look a bit more seriously at what their options are. The other very important thing is to look at is portion size. Historically, it’s been fairly easy to give a very generous portion away and still run a good business. That is now very difficult. Plus, a comment I hear a lot from customers is that they

view in the UK that fish and chips is a cheap meal and that’s just got to change. The fish that we sell and that most fish and chip shops use is the best fish in the world. Fish and chips is a meal that is freshly cooked to order using quality ingredients and operators shouldn’t be afraid to pass on some of the cost increases. What about trying other species? There is a limitation on what you can serve in a fish and chip shop, you can’t put salmon in batter! But I think operators need to be brave and look at other species. What shops need to do is contact their supplier and ask them what other fish is available, how they suggest it’s cooked and served, and why it’s good. Different fish have different benefits, for example, protein, omega 3, sustainability, and these are really important to customers and should be communicated to them.

“ There’s a little bit more fish being landed now, but I don’t see prices coming down in a significant way this year.”

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MAY 2022 - FRY MAGAZINE

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