Poles count the cost of Christmas carp as prices soar

Poles count the cost of Christmas carp as prices soar

Men handle carps taken out from a water tank at fish farm in Rembertow, Poland December 17, 2022. REUTERS/Kuba Stezycki

By Kuba Stezycki

WARSAW (Reuters) – For most Poles no Christmas would be complete without carp for dinner, but with prices rising, shoppers whose budgets are already stretched by surging inflation are having to fork out more for their favourite festive fish.

Poles hold their main celebration on Christmas Eve, with carp the centrepiece of a 12-dish feast that is traditionally meat-free.

While the bottom-feeding lake dwellers are considered inedible in some parts of the world, in Poland and some other central European countries carp are served cold in jelly as well as fried or baked and have long been seen as a relatively cheap way of feeding a large group of people.

But with inflation in emerging Europe’s largest economy deep in double-digit territory, fish farm owner Michal Gorski says he has had to raise the price of carp from 18-20 zlotys ($4.10-$4.55) per kilogram in 2021 to 30 zlotys this year.

In some supermarkets the price increase has been even bigger, with economist Rafal Mundry pointing to a 75% increase at one major chain at the beginning of December.

«Keeping, rearing these carp has got drastically more expensive, it’s grown by 100-150%» since last year, Gorski said, as snow fell on the ponds in Rembertow, near Warsaw, where he keeps his fish.

With prices rising so steeply, a survey by Kantar Public cited by Polityka weekly showed that as many as 40% of respondents did not want to buy carp this Christmas.

However, for many shoppers in a central Warsaw market, the festive favourite was indispensable whatever the price.

«I can’t imagine Christmas Eve without carp,» said 44-year-old school headteacher Ewa Hunkiewicz. «I buy carp no matter how much it costs. It must be on the table.»

($1 = 4.3950 zlotys)

(Reporting by Kuba Stezycki, writing by Alan Charlish; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)