EU’s sunflower oil supply has been drying up because of Russia’s war in Ukraine
Europe has been experiencing a shortfall of Ukrainian sunflower oil because of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
The EU imports around 200,000 tonnes of Ukrainian sunflower oil every month. EU refineries source 35-45% of their sunflower oil from Ukraine and available stocks in the EU could cover up to mid-April, vegetable oil industry group FEDIOL estimated. Ukrainian sunflower oil cannot be replaced in the short term. Thus, its shortage has already made European downstream operators reformulate their product recipes to replace sunflower oil with rapeseed oil where possible. In the case of frying oils, there have been replacements of sunflower oil against palm oil, soybean oil, and rapeseed oil.
Meanwhile, sunflower oil has become “the new toilet paper” in Europe. In response to people’s panic about buying the products, supermarket chains in Greece, Italy, and Spain have been restricting how much sunflower oil customers can buy. For example, Greek food retailer AB placed a limit of 3 bottles of oil per customer. Spanish supermarkets have limited the purchase of sunflower oil to a few bottles per person. Empty shelves were seen in Italy and Germany. German supermarkets emphasized that they may have to limit sunflower oil sales to prevent customers from buying more than “normal household quantities”, should there continue to be heightened demand.