Industry experts warn that Britain’s much-loved fish and chips could become “more expensive than wagyu beef”. The increased costs could come if the government reinstates the planned tariff on whitefish caught in Russia.
The tariff was originally scheduled for early April 2022 and the decision to reinstate the tariff was “imminent”. An industry expert said the tariffs could “make cod and fries more expensive than wagyu beef,” The Grocer reported.
On March 15, an additional 35% duty on all Russian whitefish imports was announced, along with tariffs on other food and drink products. The tariffs are part of the British government’s sanctions against Russia after the country invaded Ukraine.
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Two weeks later, the government confirmed that it had postponed these tariffs after the panic in the food industry. Although no future date was given for the return of the tariffs, the government stressed that it would reintroduce the tax.
Many in the UK seafood industry have started to prepare for these tariffs and are no longer sourcing fish caught in Russian waters and some customers have already noticed the price difference. With fewer choices in the sector, as companies try to stay away from fish caught in Russia, there is more pressure in the industry.
An industry source warned that implementing the tariffs would only “put more pressure on an already strained supply point”. Andrew Crook, head of the National Fish Friers Federation, warned that the tariffs would also encourage companies to resort to illegal practices such as underpaying staff and not paying enough tax, to avoid additional costs.
Hans Frode Kielland Asmyhr, UK director of the Norwegian Seafood Council, said customers would soon start seeing a salmon fillet of the same quality as a “premium fillet of beef”. Some suggest the solution is to build better relationships with suppliers.
Jamie Peers of Doncaster fish market supplier The Gentleman Fishmonger said: “For the whitefish market we need to try to produce and build better relationships with our suppliers as we look to the future. “
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