Introduction: A Love for Fish and Chips
Originating from Yorkshire I’m more than partial to fish and chips, this classic combo being a staple of my diet when growing up. Whether it was a fish supper on a weekday evening or a Saturday lunchtime meal while watching Football Focus on the BBC this delicacy has always represented something of a treat.
A New Take on Chips: Awesome Chips
I’m pleased to say it has retained its appeal despite the intervening years introducing me to a range of global fare that I could only have dreamt of in my youth. However, it was with some trepidation on my part that I was coaxed into giving Awesome Chips a go on my local high street by my chip connoisseur children. It could not have been further removed from the traditional chippy that I grew up with, no cash, just a simple tap of the card on the epos system, no newspaper, more flamboyant and colourful wrapping was used. Thankfully, it is still a treasured part of the UK food landscape.
The Success of Awesome Chips: A Simple Model
It’s a tiny take-away-only unit that is one of only three such outlets to date around the UK and which is described by its owners as a Belgian frites concept. Awesome Chips’ menu is pretty much all about the fries – with four variants – and myriad accompaniments including sauces, rubs and spices. There’s no fish and mushy peas in sight. It’s an incredibly simple model and seems to be working because the company reported a 20% like-for-like increase in sales during January when it served up 15,000 portions of chips.
Pricing: Are Chips Worth the Cost?
Shunning the French fries and waffle options, I had to go for the classic chips with the large box coming in at £7.75. I thought this was rather steep but it turned out to be a very hefty portion and hats off to the fryers as it compared very well with the output of the traditional chippy. The smaller box or cone is priced at under £5 and highlights what a great bargain are fried spuds.
Chips as a Popular Pub Meal and Snack
It was interesting to see Gordon Ramsay getting a roasting on Trip Advisor recently for charging £8 for a side order of chips at the Savoy Grill. Maybe I’m missing something but that seems wholly reasonable when considering the context – linen tablecloths and fine dining. Could it be that such heated discussions simply reflect our love for this humble dish and its long-standing position as truly egalitarian food?
The Versatility of Chips: Toppings and Accompaniments
Regardless of price, there is no doubt that chipped fried potatoes are much loved by the great swathes of the country. When paired with fish as many as 28% of people stated it was one of their top three pub meals, according to CGA Food Insights 2022, and an impressive 50.7% of people eating in a pub between November 2020 and January 2022 included chips as part of their meal, according to Lumina Intelligence. The fact this might have been a component of a main meal, a side dish, or simply a snack highlights the flexibility of the good old chip.
Increased Activity in Chip-focused Businesses
This flexibility goes into overdrive when considering the combination of sauces and condiments that can be sold alongside them. Food service companies also have the opportunity to offer loaded fries, which brings a whole other dimension into play as the chips can be topped with the likes of cheese, Bolognese, beans and myriad other ingredients.
Chipped Potatoes: An Opportunity for the Food & Beverage Industry
Maybe it is no surprise that we are seeing increased activity with chip-focused businesses that are looking to take things on from the traditional old-school fish & chip shop. Alongside Awesome chips, which is set to open five UK franchise sites this year, we have Wendy’s franchisee Papas Hospitality Group planning to open more of its Papas Fish & Chips multi-site outlets, The Chesterfield Group continues to hoover up independent operators and convert them to its Churchill’s brand, and the Bek’s business in the Midlands is to expand through franchise outlets as it promotes its famous battered chips.
Conclusion: The Enduring Love for Chips
With the cost of living crisis hitting restaurants hard and the need to reduce waste in order to cut costs, there is no doubt that chipped potatoes represent an incredible opportunity for the food & beverage industry. They are cost-effective, everyone loves them, and the flexibility of the core ingredient is unrivalled. What’s not to like?