'Perfect storm' hits fish and chip prices warns owner of award winning Chatteris shop
The owners of an award winning fish and chip shop is urging customers to be more adventurous as the cost of the favourite dish spirals.
Peter Petrou, who owns Petrou Brothers with his brother Mark in Chatteris which won the UK's fish and chip shop of the year award in 2007, said "a perfect storm" of outside factors have sent costs rising causing an inevitable increase in the price of a portion of cod and chips.
Issues such as the shortage of lorry drivers has meant that beef dripping, the fat traditionally used to fry the mouthwatering treat, is languishing in docks around the country including Felixstowe instead of filling fryers, and that coupled with a cut in the availability of sustainably sourced cod has put costs up for fish shop owners nationally.
Peter said: "We can source beef dripping in this country but it is more expensive. We mostly import it from Germany as that is where it is largely refined and it is more cost effective. We know exactly where the beef dripping we ordered is and that is sitting at Felixstowe docks.
"But there are simply not enough drivers to transport it, and it is not just the fish and chip shop industry that is being hit, it is pubs, restaurants and dozens of non food businesses too. The pandemic saw many drivers parked up for months and having to find alternative jobs, now they are not returning to what can be a really hard profession to work in.
"On top of that the country voted to leave Europe and so Brexit has also played in what's happening.
"We source all our cod from sustainable fishing grounds, because it is important to us that cod is preserved so it is around for our grandchildren and great grandchildren to enjoy and quotas have been cut by 20 per cent this year to allow supplies to recover.
"That in turn means a 20 per cent rise in the cost of cod because demand is still there and then of course the price of fuel has also rocketed - all in all it is the perfect storm and means that a regular portion of fish and chips now costs £8 - it is becoming no longer the cheap family treat we all remember and that is not because we are profiteering it is simply a result of the circumstances we are finding ourselves in.
"That's why we are trying to encourage our customers to be 'brave' and try cheaper, equally tasty alternatives to the usual cod and haddock, such as pollock and hake.
"They are just as good, but are in better supply and therefore are a great cheaper alternative. We have persuaded customers to try them in the past and they have enjoyed them, but then gone straight back to eating cod - but we would like to see them eat more of the alternatives."
He added: "We do fry things for vegans and vegetarians in sunflower oil, but when it comes to traditional fish and chips beef dripping is the preferred fat simply because of the way it fries and the flavour it gives.
"We also try to source many of our ingredients locally for instance our potatoes for the chips are grown here in Chatteris and that helps keep costs down.
"I know every fish and chip shop in the country is facing the same pressures as us. Our national federation is even producing posters to highlight why the price is going up, I just wanted people to be aware of the situation, and hopefully still come to us for their weekly treat and hopefully be a little brave and try something different."