Cod almighty: Price of fish supper could rise by a fifth after Brexit

The price of cod could rise by 18% should the UK leave the European Union without a

free trade deal in place, a new report from Rabobank has warned

Tariffs placed on cod imports, the UK’s most popular seafood and a staple of fish and chip shops, would range between 7.5% to 18% in the event of a hard Brexit, in line with the EU’s most favoured nation tariffs.

Future tariffs on the UK’s seafood imports would depend on whether it signs free trade agreements with the EU and countries including Iceland, which is Britain’s biggest cod supplier, as well as the Faroe Islands and Norway. These countries collectively make up more than half of the UK’s cod imports.

Prepared and preserved fish, the main type used in fish and chip shops, accounts for almost £100m in imports and carries the highest tariffs. Frozen fillets, which make up over £340m of imports, bear the lowest tariffs.

Beyhan De Jong, animal protein analyst at Rabobank, said: “In the event of a hard Brexit, we would see tariffs imposed on fish imports, which would likely see Britain’s fish and chip shops increase consumer prices to cover their own rising costs.

“The UK could in turn retaliate and counter-impose tariffs on some of the continent’s favourites, namely Scottish salmon, herring and mackerel, which dominate the fish landings of EU boats in UK waters. This tit-for-tat would likely result in consumers paying more for the most popular seafood and fish products both in Britain and the EU.

“An ocean of uncertainty awaits the UK’s seafood industry should it fail to negotiate trade deals with its neighbours.”

The findings come from Rabobank’s latest report on the UK’s fishing industry, Fishing for Answers II.

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