Why is there a cooking oil shortage and what types of oil are running low?

·2-min read
Ukraine is the UK’s biggest sunflower oil supplier  (AP)
Ukraine is the UK’s biggest sunflower oil supplier (AP)

UK supermarkets such as Tesco, Iceland, Morrisons and Waitrose are rationing the amount of cooking oil customers can buy, as other major UK shops have also reported low stock.

Managing director of Iceland supermarkets Richard Walker said his shops were limiting sunflower oil sales to one bottle per customer.

Iceland boss Mr Walker told Today: “If you look at commodity prices, sunflower oil has gone up 1,000% in terms of the commodity cost in the market, palm oil (up) 400% and then there is things like wheat, 50%, fertiliser, 350%.

“These are all unintended consequences of the war in Ukraine that is affecting supermarkets.

“It is not as frenzied as the toilet roll panic buying from a couple of years ago, and we are managing to maintain an offer.”

Why is there cooking oil shortage?

Ukraine’s recent war with Russia has caused disruptions to supply, as they are the UK’s biggest sunflower oil supplier.

Russia and Ukraine dominate the world’s supply for this oil – but more oils are being rationed in a knock-on effect.

Unlike previous issues of supply-chain problems and Covid panic buying, the conflict has had an effect on exports.

Food manufacturers are paying more for sunflower and rapeseed oils and in some cases are looking to find alternatives – such as palm oil.

Oils may be substituted and labelled accordingly to meet demand on short notice, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

Further hikes could follow as Indonesia announced a palm oil export ban from Thursday April 28.

As the world’s biggest palm oil supplier, this will inevitably affect the prices of other oils.

What limits have supermarkets put on oils?

Recent data showed cooking oil prices have shot up – as well as other foods like crisps, ready meals and mayonnaise.

The price of cooking oils and fats went up 7% and is nearly a quarter more expensive than a year ago, the Office for National Statistics said on April 13.

Tesco has allowed three units per customer, as Morrisons and Waitrose have limited purchases to two items each, according to the BBC.

Iceland has placed more stringent measures, with only bottle of sunflower oil per customer.

Sainsburys, Asda, Aldi and Lidl have not placed any limits on purchases yet.

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