Staithe Smokehouse: “The price of salmon is an absolute killer”

The soaring salmon price earlier in 2022 caught many companies off guard across the industry, with Staithe Smokehouse being among those that were forced to “tighten the belt” to survive.

The North Norfolk-based smokehouse was established in 2018 by owner Phil Hartshorne, who wanted to turn his hobby of smoking food into a profession. Having undertaken months of training, learning the “simple, fish first, no technology Artisan style of smoking,” his smokehouse specialises in Scottish salmon.

Worrisome time
“The roaring prices of salmon really caught us out for a few weeks in a row as we couldn’t believe it could go any higher,” Hartshorne said. “We had to look at other suppliers as well as to see if we could get better prices. It’s been a very worrysome time, and still as we watch prices and try and make back a little from what we lost,” he added.

Talking about the price of salmon, which skyrocketed earlier this year, Hartshorne explained how his smokehouse and others “were all suffering,” as orders placed at their old prices were starting to “cost us a lot of money.”

“The price of salmon is an absolute killer,” he said. While they initially tried to offset the salmon price by smoking other fish, which gave them a “fantastic return,” Hartshorne feared they “just couldn’t keep up,” forcing them to raise their prices.

Photo: Staithe Smokehouse

Appealing to all types of customers
Amidst all of the difficulties, Staithe Smokehouse kept going thanks to its customers, from loyal customers at Creake Abbey Farmers Market to foodies  who come to try their products.

“I get Friday fish day, parties, Christmas sides of salmon, bought for presents, first time salmon eaters, the list goes on. A vast array of people,” Hartshorne stated.

Even when they were forced to raise their prices to cope with the soaring salmon cost, Hartshorne found himself humbled by the support his customers offered him. “When we put our price up, alot of the Chefs said, well you pay for what you get. I love that their customers get to enjoy our smoked salmon. I’m humbled that people do enjoy it,” he said.

Read also: Price correction for feed ingredients: Wheat, corn and soy are now cheaper than at the outbreak of war in Ukraine

Photo: Staithe Smokehouse

Keeping it traditional
“We don’t use technology. It’s all about being involved. Learn how the fish changes of the hours of smoking by touch and feeling the flesh and skin,” Hartshorne explained, citing his traditional, artisan approach to smoking his produce.

“The wind and weathers affect on our Smokehouse. Our two Smokehouse both smoke differently. Know where to place the heavier salmon. What to look for in the beautiful raw side before we salt then smoke them. And to nurture and care for your salmon stock from purchase, smoke to sale,” he outlined.

With the smokehouse being a relatively small company, compared to its competitors, Hartshorne currently only sells within the UK, offering delivery services for local customers in and around the area. However, his efforts to expand delivery further have been hampered by the rising fuel costs in the UK, as inflation bites.

Photo: Staithe Smokehouse

Producing salmon sustainably
Despite all of the challenges, the company shares the mission expressed by many throughout the industry of putting sustainability front and centre.

From the changes, such as recycling and using smaller buckets to produce fish, to other efforts, like reusing boxes and ice packs from suppliers, Staithe Smokehouse seeks to do “as many small things as we can so as to at least make a small impact for the best of the environment.”



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