A warming portion of fish and chips has been a winter staple for generations.

But friers have warned of a challenging months ahead for their industry, as they take a battering from soaring energy bills and the cost of living crisis.

Some of the region's independent fish and chip shops have been forced to cut the numbers of days on which they open, while others are reducing their hours, restricting their menus and even cutting jobs.

The industry has seen prices of energy, fish, potatoes and oil all increase, partly as a result of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, a key supplier of white fish.

At the same time, shop owners fear customers may cut out regular fish and chip nights, to reduce their spending.

The National Federation of Fish Friers (NFFF) has warned that the combination of factors could lead to an "extinction event" for the industry this winter.

Andy and Lisa May, owners of the Sheringham Trawler, said they had cut down their opening hours and have also had to make job losses.

Mr May said: “We are having to make some tough decisions.

“We have had to close for two days during the week and also cut down on staff hours. We've even let some staff go, which we really did leave till the last minute as we know how hard times are for everyone.

“We have already changed how we work in the winter and we now have to close two days in the week and close earlier in the evenings.

“We also have less on the menu as we try our hardest not to waste stock."

At Grosvenor Fish Bar, on Norwich's Lower Goat Lane, there are not currently any plans to reduce trading days, but owners Christian Motta and Duane Dibartolomeo are looking at cost-cutting measures.

Mr Dibartolomeo said they were relying on a “a mild winter” to keep trade steady.

“We will need warmer uniforms at the shop," he said. "The frying range pumps out a lot of heat so hopefully we will be able to harness some of that.

“We are also in the midst of construction here and we are having thicker glass put in the windows, which should help.

“And while I do not see us impacting our customers in any way, we know that at home they have already been impacted by the increasing cost of gas and electric.”

Many chippie owners have reported huge gas and electricity bill increases – some more than doubling.

The NFFF has urged the government to cut VAT in order to help shops with their energy bills.

“Our electric is up 25pc and gas has doubled," Mr Dibartolomeo said. "We are not sure how a contract is of any good if the prices keep going up.

“For businesses, a VAT relief would certainly help. These are tough economic times for everyone.”

Mr May, whose energy bill for his Sheringham chippie has risen by 50pc, agreed.

“We feel that the government could help businesses like ours by removing VAT and contributing to the rising energy costs,” he added.

Eric Snaith, the chef-owner of Titchwell Manor and Eric's Fish and Chips, both in north Norfolk, said the situation was the same for him.

“The simplest solution is to reduce the VAT,” he added. “Even to 15pc would be a massive help.

“At the fish and chip restaurant in Holt, our mains gas has jumped up by six times, which is horrendous.

"Ultimately it means we will be losing money for more days of the winter than usual. Really we need to put the prices up again but we are resisting as we are aware that everyone is struggling and especially through the winter.”

Mr Snaith said he had also looked at closing one or two days a week – something he had previously “always tried to avoid”.

"It’s a difficult balance as we try to maintain good full-time staff numbers so need enough shifts so that redundancies aren’t required.

“Unless things improve the only way for us to continue will be by increasing prices.”