Following the UK’s departure from the EU, recent research from Foodhub has revealed that the nation’s takeaway restaurants have been struggling with unforeseen implications - primarily due to two factors: the rising cost of ingredients and delays in ports meaning it is difficult for takeaways to effectively manage their business in the current climate.
While the nature of the industry means that food prices will always increase from time to time, the implications of price hikes associated with leaving the EU have been detrimental to takeaway businesses, the study found.
Businesses are usually given a level of notice or foresight should industry-wide price increases be imminent, but the uncertainty of a deal/no deal Brexit put a huge level of anxiety on businesses, and before they knew it – the prices of their essential items had increased.
Phil Adams, General Manager at the Tiger Bite takeaway in Stoke on Trent, said: “Since leaving the EU, we have seen price increases in flour, chips, chicken and cheese, which are four of our most heavily ordered items. The main problem was the lack of information we had prior to this, as it just made forward planning impossible.
“In addition, other or most items will have had a small rise, but the flour, chips, chicken and cheese are the ones that have hit us the hardest. Our food cost on a standard week increased pretty much week by week and availability became increasingly more challenging.”
Despite the hike in prices, Phil said that his business simply didn’t have the choice of removing these four key items from the menu, as this would have inevitably impacted sales in a negative way.
He said: “We had no choice. We just had to carry on and pay the increased cost, as I’m sure the vast majority will have done. Prices changed in a matter of hours and days. Demand became higher, supply lower. Our suppliers were ultimately at the mercy of their suppliers. The chain goes upwards. Ultimately, we come second to last on that chain. Only our customers suffer after us if we can’t guarantee a supply.”
In addressing customer demand, Phil added: “90% of our customers order chips and this was the biggest cost rise and the highest risk of being unavailable. How many people will realistically order from a takeaway that has run out of chips, or hiked their price dramatically? Could you imagine KFC running out of chicken, again?!”
Another blow to the supply chain could come in the form of a severe lack of HGV drivers, which are not among the list of eligible skilled occupations, meaning they are currently excluded from skilled work visas.
Ardian Mula, CEO of Foodhub, said: “Feedback from our partners has been that they have been caught in the perfect storm during the last few months. The national lockdown has unequivocally saved the livelihoods of many takeaway owners, and while we are proud to have been supporting the public during this time, the industry cannot rely on this for much longer.”