British bait companies are being hit by massive cost increases and some are warning a kilo of boilies could cost anglers as much as £15 by the end of this year.
An Angling Times investigation has revealed that most companies are looking at average cost increases of around 20 per cent as the weak pound makes purchasing bait ingredients in dollars and euros ever more expensive.
And, as if the exchange rate wasn’t bad enough, a new European directive governing how laying hens can be farmed has caused the price of eggs to rise almost 40 per cent over the last 18 months.
Taken alongside hikes in essential commodities, such as fishmeals, flavours, semolina, packaging and fuel, fresh bait making has been hit the hardest.
“Most things have gone up 20 per cent across the board in the last year,” said Kev Knight, partner in Mainline. “Some ingredients have risen in price every week for months now. It’s the exchange rate that’s mainly to blame.
It’s not until something like this happens that you realise just how vulnerable you are to the markets.
“So far we’ve absorbed these costs - we’ve kept the price of our core products, the freezer baits, where they are. Smaller bait firms will be feeling the squeeze and could fall by the wayside,” said Kev.
Some manufacturers have been looking towards Europe as a huge potential market for some time. British-made bait remains relatively cheap on the Continent as a result of the exchange rate.
One of those that already has a firm footing in Europe, Nash Baits, remains optimistic. “Almost everything has gone up but costs are stabilising now, so we’re confident we can keep our prices where they are. The more we make, the more we sell,” said Gary Bayes.
But while manufacturers streamline their operations and fret about sales, some people remain convinced that anglers recognise the importance of good bait, insisting they won’t start cutting corners in this area if it ends up costing them bites.
“Time’s so valuable for most working people that it just doesn’t pay to try saving money on bait,” said UKCarp’s Richard Wilby.
And so far that’s being borne out by bait sales.
“We’ve remained as busy as last year,” said David Coakley, of The Bait and Feed Company.
“When the financial situation hit home in the New Year, I deliberately did a budget bait offer in case customers were feeling the squeeze. So far I’ve shifted barely any of it. It appears serious anglers recognise it doesn’t pay to start skimping on bait,” he said.