Supermarkets to limit sunflower oil purchases as shortage looms
Supermarkets in the Netherlands are starting to limit the amount of sunflower oil customers can buy as a shortage looms. Two-thirds of the Netherlands' sunflower oil is imported from Ukraine, supermarkets' umbrella organization CBL said to NU.nl.
"We are getting the first signals that it is difficult to get sunflower oil," a CBL spokesperson said to the newspaper. "That's why some supermarkets have a quota." He could not say how many bottles customers could buy at a time. "That differs per supermarket."
According to the CBL, empty shelves are starting to pop up here and there, but the organization has not received any signals of hoarding yet.
The Dutch food industry association FNLI expects that the Netherlands stocks of sunflower oil will be exhausted in four to six weeks, a spokesperson said to RTL Nieuws. Producers are looking for alternatives, like grapeseed oil, linseed oil, or palm oil.
But alternatives are not always readily available, Tiny van Boekel, emeritus professor of food technology at Wageningen University, said to the broadcaster. "In addition, they must first be found, tested per product, and then new logistical routes must be mapped out to get the substitutes here. You can't arrange all that in a week."
Labels and packaging will also need to be adjusted if substitutes are used. That could also have consequences for products' nutritional value, texture, taste, and costs.
Van Boekel expects the shortage will be a problem for the foreseeable future. "Even if the war ends soon, which I hope it does, this food problem will not be solved. Ports are in ruins, roads are destroyed, the whole infrastructure is in ruins in Ukraine."
The war in Ukraine is also pushing grain prices, which means that Netherlands residents will soon pay more for products like pasta, bread, and pizza.