Third of chippies could close this year as war sparks cooking oil shortage

A third of fish and chip shops could close by the end of the year, industry chiefs are warning.

They say the UK is facing the “biggest crisis” in the trade’s history as chippies desperately struggle to secure cooking oil.

A national shortage of sunflower oil due to the war in Ukraine has caused prices to soar.

Shop owners are being forced to shell out for higher prices for the vital ingredient, along with its alternatives such as rapeseed and palm oil.

It’s feeding into the wider cost of living crisis with other prices, like energy costs for cooking, also going through the roof.

The National Federation of Fish Friers (NFFF) now fears thousands of premises are on the brink of closure in 2022 as a result.

The crisis could see around 3,500 of the UK’s 10,500 fish and chip shops shut their doors for good, the industry body says.

Andrew Crook, the NFFF president, said: “We’ve just come through one major crisis with the pandemic – now we’re in this crisis which is even bigger.

“All our costs are going up as everyone’s disposable income is going down.

“There will definitely be closures.”

He said he thinks in six months, “probably a third of shops will close”.

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“We are really vulnerable,” he added. "It’s the biggest crisis we’ve ever faced.”

Mr Crook, who runs his own chippy in Chorley, Lancs, says he uses roughly 200 litres of sunflower oil each week.

Whereas a drum of sunflower oil used to cost £30, he says it now costs £44 – while the cost of rapeseed and palm oil have also risen.

The grim predictions comes as the owners of a Leeds chippy admit they couldn’t have taken it over at a “worse time” due to the rising cost of getting fish from overseas.

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Dave Sykes and Mark Beever took over Tingley Bar Fisheries in March, but say fish has “literally quadrupled in the last year with everything that’s going on” following Russia ’s invasion of Ukraine.

A government spokesman said: “A significant proportion of sunflower oil supply comes from Ukraine and we are working on measures, including substitution of sunflower oils with other vegetable oils, to help address the immediate supply chain challenges.

“We do not expect any significant direct impact on UK food supply."

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