Sunflower oil shortage: UK bottler has few weeks’ supply – could struggle for 12months

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Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has had a major impact on the supply of sunflower oil across the world, as the two countries produce the majority of the world’s supply. Edible Oils, which packages oil for 75 percent of the UK retail market, is increasing their supplies of other oils while other manufacturers are forced to rework recipes that involve sunflower oil, like crisps, chips and cereal bars.

Commercial director at Edible Oils Kim Matthews said that the issue is likely to persist as Ukrainian farmers should be sowing the seeds for harvest later in the year – something they are currently unable to do.

The company has upped their production to 24/7 to try and ensure it has enough rapeseed and other oils to replace the sunflower oil.

He added that 80 percent of the global supply of sunflower oil comes out of Russia and Ukraine.

He said to the BBC: “From a UK consumer perspective, sunflower oil is the biggest oil. It’s used more than anything else.

“It’s a fast moving situation. We’re still trying to see if we can get some more but it’s looking very tight.”

He added: “At the moment, Ukrainian farmers should be sowing the seeds now for the harvest in October and November.

“Clearly that’s not going to happen…. we’re probably going to miss the season so we could be impacted for 12-18 months.”

The National Edible Oil Distributors’ Association (NEODA) add that rapeseed is used far more in the food supply chain.

While British farmers do grow rapeseed, they won’t be able to meet the demands of the whole country.

NEODA’s president Gary Lewis said: “Prices for rapeseed oil have risen 50-70 percent since the attack.

“But there’s a limited supply to cover all this demand so some shortfall will be expected.”

Sunflower oil is used in hundreds of everyday products as well as for cooking.

To help them quickly adjust to the rapidly moving market, food manufacturers are being allowed to switch ingredients without having to print new packaging – which can take up to 12 weeks.

Grocery expert Ged Futter stated that the food industry is facing supply issues not experienced since the end of the Second World War.

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He said: “Retailers and suppliers have to work much more closely than they ever have before and to be much more flexible in their approach to make sure the products are on the shelf.

“The immediate focus is sunflower oil and rapeseed oil, but there will be many more products that will be affected over the coming months.

“It’s some of the ingredients you don’t even think about, like starch, which comes from wheat.”

“I think the level of food inflation we are now going to be seeing will be in excess of 15 percent.”

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