Wed, 06 Jul 2022

DUBLIN, Ireland: Many of Ireland's chip shops could close after suffering through a "perfect storm" of Covid-19, inflation and the war in Ukraine, resulting in what an industry official called a "tidal wave of closures."

Industry officials said that the jump in costs due to shortages of fish, potatoes, cooking oil and flour are causing an unprecedented crisis that threatens the future of Ireland's 450 fish and chip shops.

Officials note that the cost of cod has doubled, along with significant increases in prices for potatoes and cooking oil.

Adding to the shops' problems is an inability to hire employees.

Chip shops were suffering from shortages of ingredients prior to the Ukrainian war, with the shortages becoming worse since the war began in February.

Officials further warn that the longer the Ukraine war continues, the more likely of the chances of seeing widespread chip shop closures.

"The industry was just recovering from the problems of Covid when Ukraine hit," said Dario Marcari, a member of the Irish Traditional Italian Chippers' Association, as quoted by the Irish Mirror.

"Cod has doubled in price. It's gone up by at least 100 percent. It's around 2,400 euros per tonne for cod, which is a huge amount.

"We get flour from Italy, but others have been waiting for a consignment since March, so there are logistical problems related to Ukraine.

Adding to the problems of chip shops is that the cost of energy, once 16 cent for a kilowatt of energy, is currently reaching 40 cent per kilowatt. While a shop used to pay 1,500 to 2,000 euros per month in energy costs, they are now paying 4,000 or 5,000 euros.

"There is talk of chip shops closing. It is feared that people will be exiting the market in the next 12 to 18 months, if things don't improve," said Dario.

"All these problems are coming at us from all angles. It's a perfect storm for all of us."

Industry observers note that a majority of cod and haddock comes from Russian ships in the North Sea.

Industry officials say that sanctions on Russian fish will reduce fish supplies and make available fish more expensive.

The war in Ukraine has also resulted in increasing potato prices, as fertilizers come from Russia and have tripled in price.

While Irish farmers grow 30,000 tons of potatoes annually for domestic consumption, the country still imports an additional 80,000 tons, with some 64,000 worth 33 million euros coming from the UK.

Another official told the Irish Mirror, "We don't want to be scaremongering, but it's a disaster. Some food stuffs are dearer by 100 to 200 percent."

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