Weather puts an unwelcome freeze on Grimsby fish prices
WIDESPREAD snowfall has sent prices south on Grimsby Fish Market with demand drying up as the weather has worsened.
Having been greeted with new year prices at the top end of the scale, yesterday morning's sales hit the floor, with some haddock having soared to £5 a kilo a fortnight ago, being bought for less than a £1.
It underlined the volatility at the forefront of the town's primary industry.
Steve Norton, chief executive of Grimsby Fish Merchants' Association, said: "When we started back after Christmas prices were significantly higher, there was a shortage of fish and a demand for what was there.
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"Now with the weather we have across the country it is having an adverse effect on demand, and the price reflects that.
"Everything in this industry is about supply and demand, and this demonstrates that."
Grimsby bore the brunt of the initial flurries, but the problem wasn't so much on the home front, but the south and west, which were particularly badly hit over the weekend, with rural towns and villages particularly testing.
The huge processors dealing with major supermarkets have products sent to large distribution depots, often located by the main motorway networks, meaning the real challenge falls to the fleets of vans that leave the area on a daily basis.
And while deliveries to the home are difficult – the appetite of many to venture out to a take-aways or restaurants is also lost as the mercury plunges.
At Regal Fish Supplies Ltd, a team of 25 drivers serves about 80,000 customers around Britain.
Orders are handled at the headquarters and call centre in Barton, with a new fish handling and processing facility in Stirling Street, Grimsby.
Rounds were cut, drivers doubled up and deliveries rescheduled to deal with the adverse conditions.
Mike Brummitt, general manager, said: "It is difficult, to say the least. We are still going out but we have pulled some rounds.
"We call the customers to check the weather, and then make a decision. We have a good record, though, last time it hit so bad, in December 2010, we lost two or three days, but all the orders got delivered in the end. We didn't lose any revenue to speak of, and if we do, it is only minimal.
"We are fortunate with the way we work, and the customers are very understanding."
Chris Sparkes, managing director of Jaines & Son, is also chairman of Grimsby Fish Merchants' Association. He was on the market, and was well aware of the dip, as he deals directly with the food-service sector.
He said: "Demand is forcing the price down. We have seen some customers have a 35 to 40 per cent reduction in trade, some people we have spoken to have done even less than that over the weekend.
"The high-class restaurants still seem to be busy, but the smaller high street ones are affected.
"When we looked at the stupid prices we were seeing in the first week of the year, it shows just how difficult this game is.
"You need a crystal ball all the time as you are second guessing constantly."
THE BAD weather – we all have a good old moan and groan about the hold-ups, delays and, well chaos, that the dreaded snow causes.
But actually for many it is a lot more than just a moan – it actually hits them in the pocket, and quite badly.
Today we read about the plummeting fish prices at Grimsby fish market – the reason being the bad weather.
It just shows how volatile the markets can be – turn the clock back just two weeks and haddock was fetching a whopping £5 per kilo.
The reason – too much demand after the Christmas break and not enough supply.
The snow comes down and the reverse happens, people stay indoors, restaurants do not want the fish and the price goes down – leading to lower returns for all concerned.
Makes you wonder how many more businesses or sectors are suffering as the sub-zero temperatures continue. It is the real issues of such weather extremes that need to be remembered and the longer-term consequences – that is of course unless you are a maker of sledges, de-icer, winter tyres or heaters!
*Are you in a business that is a winner or a loser when it comes to the bad weather we are having.
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