UK sunflower oil bottler has a few weeks’ supply left
The biggest cooking oil bottler for UK shops says it only has a few weeks’ supply of sunflower oil left.
Ukraine and Russia produce most of the world’s sunflower oil and the war is disrupting exports, Edible Oils said.
The company, which packages oil for 75% of the UK retail market, is ramping up supplies of other oils for shoppers.
Meanwhile, manufacturers of foods that contain sunflower oil, like crisps, oven chips and cereal bars, are reformulating their recipes.
The Food Standards Agency has advised people with allergies to look out for extra information from shops and food makers.
Kim Matthews, commercial director at Edible Oils said 80% of the global supply of sunflower oil comes from Russia and Ukraine.
“So obviously, with everything going on out there, we physically can’t get sunflower to be coming out of the country,” he said.
“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.”
Edible Oils Ltd has upped production to 24/7 to try to make sure it has plenty of rapeseed and other oils to put on the shelves when the sunflower oil goes.
“Sunflower is great because you can cook at high temperatures. Rapeseed is very similar. You can do exactly the same with it,” he said.
But it was far from clear when sunflower oil supplies will be back to normal, he said.
“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.”
Grocery expert, Ged Futter, said the food industry is now grappling with supply issues not experienced since the end of World War Two.
“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,” he said.
“The immediate focus is sunflower oil and rapeseed oil, but there will be many more products which 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.”