FISH and chip shop owners across Dorset have expressed concern for the future of their industry.

The war in Ukraine as well as price increases on energy costs is causing worry among shop owners over their future, with some being forced to consider putting prices on fish and chips up.

Fred Capel, owner of Chez Fred in Westbourne, said the war in Ukraine has been the biggest issue for the fish and chip industry as it has disrupted the supply chain. He said: “Forty per cent of the white fish that comes into the country is from Russian vessels. The majority of the world’s crops for sunflower oil is grown in Ukraine.

“Food inflation was already high for all restaurants – not just fish and chips. In our industry it has been exacerbated by the war massively. The prices for the main products we use have gone up dramatically.”

Mr Capel said he doesn’t fear as much for his own business as he does the industry.

He said: “There are lots of smaller shops out there that are going to really struggle through this. My message to people is if you aren’t one of my customers, please support your local fish and chip shop because they will need all the help they can get.

"Understandably the general public are also under pressure themselves due to food and energy inflation.”

For Poole Quay’s Lakeside Fish and Chip shop owner Jason Leese, the costs of buying his products have seen a significant increase.

He said: “This time last year 20-litres of rapeseed oil was £17 and at the moment it is £40. For fish, this time last year three nine-kilo blocks were £130 and today it is £225.

“We have no choice but to put up prices. The increase of VAT from 12.5 per cent to 20 per cent has put pressure on us. It’s a triple blow to us with food inflation, VAT and energy costs.

“We can no longer invest in the business. We cannot absorb those kinds of inflationary figures. It will be a tough time for the fish and chip industry – it’s devastating. Lots of shops may have to close. We’ve been established since 1987 and we just hope to get through the next two years.

He added: “We’re good value for money compared to other takeaways. We hope customers will support our national dish.”

Andrew Crook, president of the National Federation of Fish Friers which has been campaigning against Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s decision to increase the VAT to 20 per cent, echoes hopes that people will continue to support their local fish and chip shop.

He said: “We’re a resilient industry and we’ll adapt. Not everybody will get through it but we’ll do what we can. Shops may diversify or use different species of fish, but we hope the consumers will continue to eat fish and chips – they’re so iconic and part of the fabric of the nation.”