STORY: At west London’s Hooked Fish and Chips, shop owner Bally Singh is struggling to keep the tills ringing.
Faced with sky-rocketing inflation, he has seen the price of everything, from cooking oil to flour, go up.
Singh has tried to absorb most of that pain, but some costs get passed on to the customer:
“We’re finding it a struggle to keep our prices reasonable and competitive compared to other fast foods that are in the area and we’ve actually seen a decline in our fish sales and customers walking through the door.
“100% I’m worried about the future of my shop. I’m worried about the fish and chip industry, I’m worried about my staff, I’m worried about my family. I worry about it every single day.”
Singh is not alone in his struggle.
According to the insolvency firm Company Debt, a third of fish and chip shops might go bust this year.
Brexit, the pandemic and now the Ukraine war have caused a perfect storm of pressures.
The UK only has access to 40% of the fish it had before it left the EU.
Inflation reached a 40-year high of 9% in April.
And Russia’s invasion has meant prices of cooking oil, fertiliser and flour have shot up.
Andrew Crook is the President of the National Federation of Fish Friers.
“I’m getting daily phone calls or people that are worried that they’re gonna go out of business and they’re struggling looking for help and it’s very difficult to give him any comfort because it is going to be a long term problem. So there’s quite a lot of businesses that are going to struggle through this.”
Further south at this seaside town in Dorset, people are noticing the higher prices and they’re not happy.
Battered fish and fried chips have fuelled Britains since the combination was invented 160 years ago.
In fact, the meal is such a staple it was not rationed during the world wars.
“Years ago when I was growing up, it was a poor man’s meal. Now, I just bought two lots of fish and chips… 23 quid. What family can afford that?”