Sunflower oil and wheat are two other global commodities impacted by the war. Spiralling fertilizer costs, much of which comes from Russia and Belarus, means fewer potatoes could be planted this year, pushing up the price of chips.
One owner feeling the pinch is Carlo Crolla, who runs East Coast Fish & Chips in Musselburgh, East Lothian. Founded by his father di lui in 1974, Crolla took over in 2002. Describing it as a “pretty bog-standard fish and chip shop” at the time, he has turned it into an “upmarket” chippy, with a new seafood restaurant next door.
For Crolla, a perfect storm of Brexit, Covid and now the war is threatening his business. Prior to the conflict, Crolla’s electricity bills had already soared from £ 400 to £ 2,000 a month. “Prices are going up for everything,” he tells the Telegraph, “There’s not one thing prices aren’t going to go up for. It’s a proper challenge. ”
The only option, therefore, is to pass on some of the costs to the customer. Currently £ 8.90 for haddock and chips, Crolla will have to go to at least £ 10. “It might even be £ 11, £ 12, I’m not 100 per cent sure yet.” Will that drive customers away? “I would say so. I might have to close my doors, it’s as simple as that, ”says Crolla.
Crook points out that closures are already happening to some of Britain’s most cherished chippies, such as Umberto’s in Preston, which shut its doors this week, citing energy prices and the rising cost of ingredients and packaging. “There’ll be a lot more of those,” Crook warns.
One potential lifeline is VAT. Currently at 12.5 per cent, the NFFF is lobbying the government to not bring it back to 20 per cent, as expected in this week’s spring statement. “I’d say it’s a one per cent chance,” Crook laments. “We just need a lifeline, even holding VAT at 12.5 per cent is not going to solve the problem. We’re in big trouble. ”
“We’ve supported jobs and businesses throughout the pandemic with our £ 400 billion package of funding and continue to do so,” said a Government spokesperson. “We’ve always been clear that the lower rate of VAT was a temporary measure to support businesses as they recover and thanks to the strength of our fantastic vaccine program which has enabled restrictions to be lifted and the economy to reopen, it’s right that our package of support reflects this. ”
“We’re the oldest takeaway industry [in the country], ”Crook continues. “We’re part of British culture. It’s an iconic dish. If you ask anybody abroad what’s great about Britain, they say the Queen, London buses, and fish and chips. It’s an industry that everybody loves, but we need the government to step in. ”
Food experts pick their favorite chippies and orders
Ryan Blackburn, chef patron of the Old Stamp House, Cumbria
Arnside chippy has to be one of the best going, it’s slightly off the beaten track and because you have to make a bit of an effort to get there it’s even more special. The staff are really friendly and provide amazing customer service, but more importantly though, their fish is perfectly cooked every time. I usually get cod, coated with a light crisp batter and their chips are perfectly fluffy inside. What’s more they have the perfect dining room close at hand too, and to access it all you have to do is simply cross over to Arnside pier, plot up and watch the sun go down over Morecambe Bay – magical!
William Sitwell, Telegraph restaurant critic
It’s fresh, it’s functional and the fried fish is fab. The humble Wivey chippy, [Kingfisher Chippy in Wiveliscombe] in our local town off Exmoor in Somerset, chippy does very generous portions, they don’t stop pouring on the vinegar and salt ’til you tell them. And as with most fish and chip shops, there’s something uniquely pleasurable about watching the staff wrap the bundle up in layer after layer of paper to keep the goodies warm and stewing in that all salt and vinegar.
Michael Caines, chef / owner Michael Caines Collection, including Lympstone Manor, and The Cove at Maenporth
Krispies in Exmouth, Devon, is fairly famous around here for serving up the best fish and chips locally. Queues wrap around the corner every day, it is must-visit when in Exmouth. My go-to is a battered haddock or cod and chips – I’m a traditionalist in that regard!