Supermarkets limit cooking oil purchases due to Ukraine crisis — Analysis
The UK is a main supplier to Ukraine of sunflower oil. Supply chain problems caused supply shortages that led to changes in consumption patterns.
The restriction on the amount of cooking oil that customers may purchase from major British supermarkets is due to a shortage and changes in consumer habits resulting in conflict in Ukraine. According to the UK food regulator, the former Soviet republic is responsible for a “significant proportion” of UK sunflower oil supply.
Tesco Morrisons, Waitrose and the upmarket retailer Waitrose confirmed to media that they have capped the amount of cooking oils a customer may purchase.
“We have imposed a temporary limit on the number of items that customers may purchase from our range of cooking oils to ensure they can get their products.,” Tesco said in a statement, reassuring customers that there is “There are many cooking oils available online and in-store.”
Waitrose and Morrisons followed a similar path, but each customer was limited to two items.
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development estimates that Russia and Ukraine together account for 53% and 27% of the global sunflower oil and seed trade, respectively.
As a result of the military conflict, the price of sunflower oil in the UK jumped 60% from £1,130 per tonne in February to over £1,800 in March, according to analysts at Mintec. Manufacturers and restaurants have changed their recipe to use other oils because of oil shortages.
These changes in consumption have caused cooking oil prices to soar, having risen even before the conflict began in Ukraine. The Guardian reported that prices had risen 22% since April last year, using NielsenIQ analysis.
UK Food Standards Agency warned that consumers are at greater risk from food allergies because of the urgent need to substitute sunflower oil for other oils. In late March, the regulator said that “It is unlikely that the industry can re-label products in the same time as oil substitutions. This could result in mislabeled products being on the market.”
However, there are other factors that contribute to the scarcity of cooking oil. On Friday, Indonesian President Joko Widodo announced a ban on exports of palm oil, the world’s most consumed edible oil.
The move will severely impact the existing shortage of cooking oils around the globe, as Indonesia is responsible for over a third.
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