Pellet prices set to SOAR!

Thanks to a “perfect storm” of factors, from war in Ukraine to Brexit, experts are already warning of price hikes in the bait world. So what can we expect, and how can anglers keep their feeding bills down?


by Angling Times |

In keeping with the dramatic current rise in fuel and supermarket food costs, the era of great value fishing bait could be coming to an end.

Or at least, that’s the view of experts across the industry, with pellets at the forefront of price hikes.

“We’ve never seen anything quite like this,” said SonuBaits’ general manager Ian Day. “The current situation represents the perfect storm, with raw material costs going up and availability going down. For now there’s little we can do. We can’t simply absorb a near doubling of costs, so there will be definite rises – we need to stay in business to keep anglers in bait!”

Dynamite Baits echoed this tone when asked about pricing. “With the increasing costs of raw materials and the volatile current global situation, this is impacting the price of pellets along with all other animal feed materials,” said Dynamite Baits’ co-managing director Daryl Hodges.

He said that while the company was doing everything it could to absorb cost rises, “prices will inevitably have to increase at some point unless the situation stabilises,” adding that Dynamite was “working constantly behind the scenes, negotiating with suppliers to ensure we do keep any price increases to an absolute minimum.”

Changing trends and knock on effects

While it would be easy to jump to simplistic conclusions, the reality is that UK fishing bait is just one tiny part of a vast global industry, with most products derived from the aquaculture sector.

“Everywhere you look, pretty much every cost is increasing,” said Ian Day. “Whether it’s the price of ingredients or packaging, costs have increased exponentially. Supply chains rely on diesel fuel, while shrink wrap and even wooden pallets have all risen sharply in price.”

However, he rejected the idea of altering products or going for cheap alternatives. “It just wouldn’t make sense to compromise on quality. We rely on angler trust and confidence. When you’ve built that over many years, what’s the point of producing cheaper bait that isn’t as effective?”

While nobody from the industry would be drawn on specific figures with price rises, what seems clear is that the effects will be widespread. For one thing, countless other products, from modern groundbaits to boilies, rely on crushed pellets.

Another glaring part of the equation is Britain’s fish farming industry, with spiralling feed costs certain to increase the going rate for every species of commercially farmed fish going, from carp to trout.

Whether this will ultimately mean higher day ticket costs remains to be seen, but for now the whole of the bait and aquaculture trade is urging consumers to brace themselves.

WHAT’S IN YOUR PELLETS?

For so many anglers, the content of feed pellets doesn’t get a second thought, but a quick look at the key ingredients is revealing.

Pellets originate from fish farming, and a huge amount of scientific research goes into them, to ensure they balance high nutrient levels with high palatability to guarantee fish will eat them. So what do we find in a typical pellet?

WHEAT is the main ingredient in most pellets. War in Ukraine alone has led to huge supply issues, while demands to feed people and livestock have led to increases of 96 per cent from 2021 to 2022.

FISHMEAL & OILS come from processed, oily sea fish, making pellets rich in protein and amino acids. Oil content varies by pellet, but the value of fish oil alone has increased by 88 per cent from 2021 to 2022, with China buying around 50 per cent of new quota production (i.e. fish that haven’t even been caught yet!)

MAIZE, SOYA and other ingredients are often used and can provide alternatives to wheat, but these are subject to major price rises too. Soy protein concentrate, for instance, went up by over 120 per cent in the last year.

PALATANTS are additives designed to make foodstuffs more attractive to animals. These substances ensure that pellets are eagerly eaten by fish – and a key reason pellets make such effective fishing bait.

HOW CAN I MAKE MY BAIT GO FURTHER?

Want to ensure you get maximum potency for your pounds? Here are some top tips from SonuBaits’ Ian Day:

Don’t sweat the shelf life: Provided pellets are stored safely, they’ll last a long time. At two years old, bait will still be effective. “Beyond that, it will still work, but is rather like a jar of kitchen spice,” explains Ian. “It will still be edible, just less potent.”

Keep it safe! Rats, mice and moths account for lots of wasted bait, so safe storage is essential. “The last thing you want to do is have £100 of bait in your garage just to have it spoiled,” says Ian. “Rodents struggle with metal, so get a metal bin and use wire wool in any holes or gaps in walls. Mice hate it!”

Freeze it: “I don’t see enough people freezing bait,” says Ian, who advises freezing leftovers rather than simply throwing them in at the end of a session. “The physical properties will change, but pellets and groundbait will be perfectly usable. If anything, flavours will be absorbed even better.”

Buy and use wisely. Sometimes bait can be bought cheaper in bulk, while on the bank, portion control is a must. Many of us feed too heavily and too infrequently, but keeping helpings small, regular and accurate can make your bait work more effectively.

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