Europe faces sunflower oil shortage

The lack is already felt on the shelves of European supermarkets. Not only the food industry, but also the cosmetics industry is starting to face difficulties due to the absence of sunflower oil. Ukraine and Russia are the world’s largest exporters of the product.

From Paris to Barcelona, ​​the images are repeated: empty shelves in the part of sunflower oil or other derivatives of it, such as margarine, chips and sauces. In establishments where some rare bottles of this product, hitherto ordinary, still remain, prices took an unexpected rise.

The demand for sunflower oil is such that some supermarket chains have even imposed quotas on customers. In Madrid, the Mercadona and Corte Inglés establishments allow each customer to take just five liters of the product per day.

In France, the government has authorized food companies that depend on sunflower oil for the production of derivatives to replace it with another similar item, without the need to change the packaging for a maximum period of six months. French agri-food manufacturers are already using rapeseed or palm oil in biscuits, chips, margarine, spreads, preserves and sauces.

“There are thousands of products”, explains Camille Dorioz, from the NGO for the defense of consumer rights Foodwatch, in an interview with Franceinfo. “Some industrialists say that there is no more sunflower oil on the market and that they need to replace it in their products. We are not complaining about this change, but we demand clear information”, he reiterates.

Map Russia invades Ukraine - 26.02.2022 - Arte UOL - Arte UOL
Image: UOL Art

The UK has been facing a sunflower oil shortage for weeks. The country even fears that with the absence of the product from the shelves, a traditional British dish, fish and chips, will no longer be served in restaurants and at the population’s table.

Biggest sunflower oil producers are at war

Ukraine, which provided 50% of the world’s sunflower oil trade, has been unable to export it since being invaded by Russia. The country’s ports are blocked and, according to Kiev, the roads and railways that allowed half a million tons of the product to flow westward, do so ten times less than before the start of the war.

Russia, which exports 28% of the sunflower oil it produces, has set a quota for international sales of its “liquid gold”. In early April, Moscow increased export taxes by 20%.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, last March, food prices reached “levels never before recorded”. The institution points out that the main responsible are vegetable oils, whose values ​​registered a high of 23.2%.

The famous European cosmetics industry is also suffering the consequences of the war in Ukraine. Manufacturers face shortages of paper, glass, alcohol and sunflower oil. The increase in the prices of packaging, energy and raw materials generated an increase of 25% to 30% in the production costs of these articles, says Federica Levato, from the consultancy Bains & Company.

“We are in crisis management mode on the issue of products in shortage”, says Emmanuel Guichard, delegate general of the Federation of Beauty Companies of France. The same observation was made by the directors of Intercos, an Italian cosmetics supplier, which is preparing to announce a price increase for several items in a few weeks.

Strong rise in the price of other vegetable oils

With part of the food industry replacing sunflower oil, the values ​​of other oilseeds originating from rapeseed, soy and palm also took an unexpected leap. Soybean oil, for example, recorded a 16.5% increase earlier this month in the US market and rapeseed oil last week registered its absolute record value (€1,000 a ton, with deliveries scheduled for May only in the market). European).

Faced with the increasingly distant forecast of the end of the war, in France, the first oilseed producer in the European Union, farmers intend to plant more rapeseed this year. The areas of this crop should have an increase of 18.4% this year compared to 2021, while the land for planting wheat should decline by 3.9%.

In the United States, where sowing takes place between May and June, several farmers are already planning to increase their acreage. The National Association of Sunflower Growers predicts a 20% to 25% increase in planting, “something unprecedented”, says the organization’s president, John Sandbakken.

(With information from AFP and Reuters)

About Abhishek Pratap

Food maven. Unapologetic travel fanatic. MCU's fan. Infuriatingly humble creator. Award-winning pop culture ninja.

Check Also

Cats know each other’s names and the names of people they live with

In recent years, scientists have been proving that cats really do connect deeply with humans, …