Potential sanctions on Russian fish after war in Ukraine threatening Peterborough’s fish and chip shops

Peterborough’s fish and chip industry is facing its biggest threat in 160 years due to expected sanctions on Russian fish in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

By adam barker
Friday, 18th March 2022, 4:55 am
Netherton Fisheries, on Ledbury Road, Peterborough, is co-owned by Carl Smith, 72, and his son Marcus, 37 (Photo: Netherton Fisheries)
Netherton Fisheries, on Ledbury Road, Peterborough, is co-owned by Carl Smith, 72, and his son Marcus, 37 (Photo: Netherton Fisheries)

The British fish and chip industry is under serious threat, a leading industry expert has warned.

A return to 20 per cent VAT, rising cost of fish, the increase in minimum wage and the Russia-Ukraine war are all contributing to a perfect storm - and hiking costs for fish and chip shop owners.

The president of the National Federation of Fish Friers (NFFF) and vice chairman of the British Takeaway Campaign said up to 60 per cent of white fish comes from Russian sources.

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Netherton Fisheries, in Peterborough, have been forced to raise their prices because of potential sanctions on Russian fish (Photo: Netherton Fisheries)

"The fish and chip industry has always had quite a tight margin,” Andrew Crook, who has served as president of the NFFF since 2017, said. “Fish is a premium protein, it's as expensive as steak in the supermarkets - but our prices have always been low.

"I've never had as much fear for the industry as I'm having now. If we get a sanction on Russian fish we can expect costs to triple. It could cause fish and chip shops to go bust. I've already seen it happening.

"It's a very scary situation but we have to do the right thing by Ukraine. We've got to let Russia know that what they're doing isn't acceptable, but it will be a heavy price to pay for the industry.

Mr Crook has worked in the industry for 22 years and said he worries about the rise to minimum wage and potential return to 20 percent VAT.

“I've never seen anything like it," he added. "It's everything all at once - it's the most dangerous threat to the industry in 160 years.

"We just hope customers continue to use their local independent businesses. We are all going to struggle and we need their support.”

Carl Smith, 72, co-owns Netherton Fisheries, on Ledbury Road, Peterborough, with his son Marcus, 37.

“Fish prices have gone through the roof,” he said. “It’s more expensive to buy from the wholesalers and fish merchants - and because it’s so expensive we’re going to have to increase our prices.

“It’s not something we want to do to our customers but we haven’t got any choice. It’s been taken out of hands and, in all honesty, we don’t know what the answer is.

“My fish bill last week was about £250 more than it is normally and this week it’s going to be about £300 more because of the increase in prices.

“A lot of fish shops will go to the wall and we need to do what we can to make sure that we’re not one of them.”