Pressure on fish and chip shops

Pressure on fish and chip shops
Rhonda Dredge

The price of flake has held steady in local fish and chip shops as we come out of lockdown, despite the shortage of gummy shark putting pressure on retailers.

A piece of flake can be bought for $7 on Macaulay Rd and Haines St and $9 on Errol St.

“I still have a supply,” said Victor of the Salt Seafood & Burger Bar on Errol St.

But the shortage of gummy shark has seen the wholesale price more than double during lockdown.

A 10-kilogram lot used to cost $80. Now the price is $200, with a hike of $50 in the past two months alone.

“It’s hard eating into our profits but we have to complete orders,” Victor said. “We’ll put the prices up next year.”

Fish and chip shops stayed open during the lockdown and built up clientele.

“During the lockdown we had more people, but sales weren’t high,” said Zac of Kensington Fish & Chips in Macaulay Rd. “They didn’t have big gatherings.”

A shortage of their number one seller could have sent the local fish and chip economy into a spin but the basket size is small, and these proprietors are focused on increasing it.

“I can’t go dramatic,” Zac said. “I want to make sure I’m not sending people away.”

Elie of North Melbourne Fish & Chips in Haines St took over the business just before lockdown, having picked up the trade by working their first.

“I’m happy here,” he said. “But the price of everything has gone up. I’ve changed the prices three times.”

A box of oil was $32. Now it’s $52. “I need eight boxes every week,” he said. A box of tomatoes was $20 to $30. Now it’s $70. “Cheese, bacon everything. I bought 20 kg of onions for $18. Today one bag cost $23.”

Some price increases are seasonal. The spring rain has interfered with the tomato harvest, some commentators say.

They are blaming container landing costs for the flake price hike and the banning of fishing in New Zealand during the lockdown. Even the cost of butcher’s paper has increased.

“A lot of this stuff is coming from China,” Zac said. “There’s always been two options. I don’t mind where I get it from. Now we have to buy Australian and it’s more expensive.”

He’s been working at the Macaulay Rd shop run by his parents for 11 years and plans to look at the prices over the Christmas break.

Elie has increased prices on his lunch boxes from $11 to $12 and his dinner pack from $30 to $32. Victor put up his prices two-and-a-half years ago and is still holding off •

John Buncle

John Buncle

February 14th, 2024 - Felicity Jack
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