Seafood sanctions could lead to product shortages and price hikes – Seafish

Seafood industry bosses have warned of likely price hikes and potential product unavailability if the UK follows the US and imposes sanctions on Russian imports.

The country invading Ukraine is a huge exporter of whitefish, with Atlantic pollock being the main species. He estimated that 30% of the seafood consumed in the UK could come from there.

Market leader Young’s – and others – are weighing their position as legal and moral factors emerge, with Western countries keen to sever ties and hit the Russian economy hard to choke off war chest funding.

Read more:Seafood Group sets priorities for ‘one of the largest processing clusters in the Northern Hemisphere’

Now Grimsby-based Seafish, the industry authority, has looked at the potential implications, should new legislation be imposed.

A spokesperson said: “The recent events that have unfolded in Ukraine over the past few weeks are unimaginable and the impacts this will have on all of us are significant. It may seem strange to discuss the “price of fish” at a time like this, but seafood is one of the most traded products and the horrific events unfolding in Ukraine will impact businesses and consumers in the UK, Europe and beyond. .

“We are keeping a brief look at how this could impact the UK seafood supply chain.”

Global whitefish production estimates for 2022 are around seven million tonnes, with walleye pollock accounting for nearly 50% of that production.

Fish sticks were highlighted by Seafish.

According to Seafish, Russia accounts for more than 40% of the world’s whitefish production and is the main producer of walleye pollock with a share of almost 60%, while producing more than 30% of the world’s cod supply. Atlantic and 25% haddock.

While the vast majority sold through Grimsby Fish Market is Icelandic, direct supply for processors in the UK retail gateway cluster comes from global markets.

The spokesperson said: “The UK is highly dependent on whitefish imports. In 2020, the UK imported 432,000 tonnes worth almost £800m. This compares to national cod and haddock landings of 47,200 tonnes in 2020.

“In order to meet consumer demand, whether for fish sticks or fish and chips, we have to rely on imports. Russia has been a major source of these imports for almost 30 years.

“Direct imports from Russia were 48,000 tonnes in 2020, but a considerable proportion of Chinese whitefish imports into the UK – which totaled 143,000 tonnes in 2020 – will also be of Russian origin. It is also likely that some Norwegian, Polish and German imports to the UK will include Russian products.

“The challenge is that there is no obvious or quick substitute for this product if it is no longer available to UK businesses, nor is there an option to simply increase the offer.”

Whitefish is a highly competitive global product and most supplies are already under contract.

The spokesperson added: “Any changes to the available supply will impact production; the products we expect to find in supermarket freezers will no longer be available or will experience significant price increases. Commodity prices are estimated to increase by at least 20-30% due to current events.

The spokesperson added: “While no formal seafood sanctions or trade measures have been put in place, the current global situation is expected to cause significant disruption to seafood processing in the Kingdom. -United ; rising fuel prices, supply delays, competition for products. This will inevitably lead to increased costs and should result in higher food prices for consumers. “It is impossible to predict how much prices will increase, but they could reach 20 to 30%.

“UK seafood companies understand how difficult this will be, especially for low-income families who are already struggling, so there is a lot of work going on by companies to find ways to minimize the impact it will have on consumers.

We are working with the seafood industry to support them in any changes they may wish to make to their supply chains in light of this situation.

Coming out of the pandemic, margins have already been described as tight for many processors.

Wheat is also used for the production of batter and breadcrumbs, with Russia and Ukraine together producing a quarter of the world’s supply, although the UK is considered self-sufficient, with Yorkshire and Lincolnshire being the national breadbasket.

Simon Dwyer, Secretariat of the Grimsby Fish Merchants' Association and UK and Ireland representative of the North Atlantic Seafood Forum.
Simon Dwyer, secretary of the Grimsby Fish Merchants’ Association.

Ukraine is also the world’s largest producer of sunflower oil.

The secretariat of the Grimsby Fish Merchants’ Association and a key figure in the new Seafood Grimsby and Humber Alliance, Simon Dwyer, said: ‘I think we are preparing for a potential recalibration of the way we source whitefish from long term.

“We’re fortunate to have historically had strong relationships with Iceland, Norway and the Faroe Islands as well, so it’s also not like we’re absolutely dependent on fish that may or may not come from Russia.”

He said the gradual shutdown of UK oil and gas supplies also suggested businesses and markets would have time to adjust.

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