The popular Lytham St.Anne’s fish and chip restaurants, Seniors, have posted a notice to their many customers following a surge in the price of the once humble potato. The notice from Alastair Horabin reads, ‘A temporary 50p supplement has been added to all meals, offers and chip portions to help support Seniors over the next eight weeks as potatoes unsustainably surge past £25 a sack. As soon as new potatoes land I will remove this supplement and be forever grateful for your kind support.’
This comes as, in greengrocers and supermarkets, customers will have seen that the potato is one of the noticeable casualties of the unprecedented soaring grocery prices that have hit UK shoppers. And now the surge in the cost of spuds and well as other inflationary expenses is clobbering high street chippies throughout the country.
Andrew Crook, the president of the National Federation of Fish Friers, has said that local fish and chip shops could opt to close after the cost of 25kg sacks more than doubled to over £25. The industry expert said, ‘People might just shut their shop due to all the other costs as well. They were barely keeping their heads above water, so this is going to be a step too far. Some shops will close until potato prices settle down but some it may put under.’
The 2022 UK potato crop was much smaller than usual because of last summer’s drought. And with rising energy and labour costs affecting the whole food industry, the shelf price of potatoes and frozen chips, traditionally an affordable and filling accompaniment to any meal, has jumped by almost 60%. For example, a four-pack of supermarket own-label baking potatoes now costs 25p more than a year ago at 69p. This works out as a 57% price increase, based on the average price across Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons, according to the data firm Assosia.
As supplies have decreased over the course of the season, the demand for potatoes suitable for chipping has led to buyers competing for dwindling stocks. Chipping potatoes are typically not grown on contract which means any rises in free-buy prices are fully reflected in the prices paid by chippies. This has meant that chippies have seen continuing major increases with little to no price stability.