Cooking oil shortages hit U.K. as war in Ukraine continues

Supermarket shoppers are preparing for limited availability of some goods along with higher prices, as the war in Ukraine increased public awareness of supply pressures and prices rose, according to the latest survey by the market analyst Kantar.

Cooking oil sales increased 17% in the year from April 2021, with sunflower oil – Britain’s most popular choice for frying – up 27% and vegetable oil sales up 40%.

Some people in the U.K. have begun to stockpile some essentials such as cooking oil as grocery price inflation hits it highest level in more than a decade in April.

Most of the UK’s sunflower oil comes from Ukraine and the war has had a devastating impact on availability as exports ground to a halt. With firms left scrabbling to source other vegetable oils, the price of cooking oil in the shops is about a 20% higher than a year ago.

U.K. supermarkets have adopted a rationing plan to reduce panic buying and customers stock piling. Tesco has introduced a buying limit of three bottles per customer across its entire cooking oil range. The UK’s biggest retailer says it has good availability of cooking oil but on its website a small number of vegetable oils are out of stock.

Tesco is following in the footsteps of Morrisons and Waitrose which have already limited purchases to two a person. Waitrose said it was “closely monitoring the situation and working with our suppliers to ensure customers continue to have a choice of cooking oils”. Sainsbury’s and Asda have yet to take any action.

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