Cod prices in the UK soar

12 February 2015 by
Cod prices in the UK soar

The rising cost of cod is putting pressure on restaurateurs and fish and chip shop operators to raise their prices.

That's according to a report by commodity analyst Mintec, reported on the Mail Online, warning that the price of Norwegian cod has risen by 25.7% year-on-year, to £1,060 per tonne.

Jack-Robert Moller, UK director for the Norwegian Seafood Council, disputed the idea that increased demand from China had a role to play, although he admitted that supply had been under pressure in recent months.

Moller said: "We do not believe that the increased demand for Norwegian cod in China has a link with higher prices of cod in the UK. We always see an increase in demand from key European markets, like Portugal, during the autumn and Christmas period, and this is OK as the new season begins in January when supplies will be abundant again.

"However, late last year and early this year, bad weather and the late arrival of cod this season have contributed to a lack of supply and the higher prices in the UK. As the new cod season flourishes over the coming weeks, we expect the price of the fish and chips to go back to normal."

Figures from the northern part of Norway, where 90% of the cod catch is landed, showed that total cod landings in round weight by week seven of 2015 at 32.438 tons, compared to total cod landings in round weight by week seven of 2014 at 88.708 tons. This represents a reduction of 65% compared with 2014 figures, causing a short-term increase in price due to limited supply.

And it is not just cod that has seen a price increase. The Mintec report warned that other fish and seafood species could see rises. News from seafood producer Royal Greenland appeared to confirm this as it reported a continued global reduction in the availability of cold water prawns (CWP).

However, is spite of the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) quotas of CWP plummeting in 2014, Royal Greenland has maintained strong sales, achieving £36m across all seafood categories in the UK.

Greenlandic TAC quotas have dropped by a further 14% for 2015 and CWP prices are expected to remain high due to the continuing shortage of raw materials.

Meanwhile, Andy Gray, trade marketing manager for Seafish UK, encouraged restaurant and foodservice operators to look beyond the traditional seafood species: "As a wild sourced food, the price of fish can at times fluctuate due to issues of supply and demand. The vagaries of the weather can also often influence whether fishing boats are able to fish and supply fish to markets.

"To lessen the demand on more traditional types of seafood, Seafish actively encourages consumers to be more adventurous and try a wider range of seafood - an approach that is supported by the wider seafood industry."

"Consumers' palates are expanding and, allied with the wide diversity of seafood species available here in the UK, restaurants and foodservice outlets should consider responding to this by providing their customers with some of the lesser-known species, such as John Dory, gurnard, brill, megrim, squid, coley and pollock, as well as the more traditional species like cod, haddock, tuna and prawns."

The Marine Conservation Society also publishes a guide to sustainable species and seasonal buying.

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