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Tough times

The industry might be facing a number of challenges, but David Miller fiercely believes we can rise to them and come out stronger

We’ve nearing the end of what’s been a fantastic year for the fish and chip industry. Shops throughout the country have taken the necessary steps and made a number of changes to their offerings and operations in response to the challenges that the industry is currently facing.

And 2018 has certainly had its challenges. Freak weather conditions battered potato crops and led to prices doubling; whilst these prices have stabilised slightly, they remain volatile. Elsewhere, the falling price of the pound has led to an increase in the cost of imports, staffing and general operations of the day. All of this whilst pictures of fish and chips were still appearing alongside national headlines mentioning Britain’s obesity crisis.   

Check what you’re serving and how that impacts your business –nobody wants to be a busy fool!

But look how we’ve responded. The healthy eating agenda continues to be high and the industry has reacted really well. In 2016, the Does Size Matter Report released by Seafish and ADHB potatoes highlighted some serious issues regarding portion control in the industry. Since then – and definitely this year in particular – I’ve noticed more and more fish and chip shops tackling these issues by reviewing their internal procedures, menu options and staff training.

Checking portion control, training staff on the importance of portion control and looking at the recommended portions and weights will be more important than ever before over the next couple of years. Check what you’re serving and how that impacts your business –nobody wants to be a busy fool!

Fishing quotas have also been cut for haddock and cod in Norway. It’s important to react to market fluctuations by reviewing pricing in accordance with your supply chain – whether that’s fish and chips or anything else you’re selling. Move prices in line with market pressures but, most importantly, explain why these changes are necessary to your customers – they will understand! The strong relationship we have with our fish supplier, the Leinebris vessel in Norway, allows us to do this.

In fact, Daniel Harbo Pinheiro of Leinebris, told us: “The Barents Sea is one of the most productive marine areas in the world and it’s important that we carefully manage the fish stocks here in a sustainable way to ensure the cod and haddock we supply can be enjoyed for generations to come. The fishing quotas help protect fishing stocks and 2019 will see quotas on both cod and haddock reduced.   “This may make 2019 is a tough year for some fish & chip shops. Whilst these quotas aren’t as drastic as those seen in 2013, it’s important for fish and chip shops to maintain strong relationships with their supply chain so they can work through any challenges together. There are lots of benefits from fish and chip shops and vessels working closely together. The fantastic relationship we have with Miller’s allows us to communicate these benefits to their customers whilst explaining the importance of sustainable fishing methods, in particular the longline fishing method, and how this helps create a high-quality product.”

It's better to go through a year that’s a bit tough to ensure long term sustainability and profitability.

But, with all the doom and gloom aside, look at how much progress we’ve made this year. I’ve visited fish and chip shops across the country and it’s great to see the diversity of their menu offering, with more shops than ever before offering grilled fish and salads too. The industry is in a great place; we see new talent coming in every day with bright new ideas that will help shape the future. Quality output and standards are higher than ever before; I can see that from all of the fish and chip shops I’ve visited this year.

Training plays a huge part in this, so make sure you have the correct training in place to help inspire the next generation and be sure to keep a focus on the training of staff who can develop ideas that will help boost business! As we look ahead to Christmas, let’s show customers that we’re an industry that’s full of bold, new (and delicious) ideas.

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