20 March 2022, by Victoria Séveno

Severe shortages caused by the ongoing war in Ukraine mean that the Netherlands’ supplies of sunflower oil could run out in four to six weeks, the Federation of the Dutch Food Industry (FNLI) has warned.

The Netherlands faces severe shortage of sunflower oil

Alongside its status as a major exporter of grain, Ukraine also serves as one of Europe’s main producers of vegetable oil. Two-thirds of the Netherlands’ sunflower oil stock is imported from Ukraine, but as the war between Russia and Ukraine continues, those working for supermarkets and in the food industry are concerned about future shortages of this key cooking ingredient.

The FNLI warns that the Netherlands could run out of sunflower oil in just four to six weeks, but has reassured the public by announcing that factories and producers are looking for alternatives, such as rapeseed oil, linseed oil, or palm oil.

Some Dutch supermarkets have already taken the decision to ration supplies and purchases of sunflower oil on their shelves in an attempt to prevent shoppers from bulk-buying. A spokesperson for Plus told NU that members of the public are currently advised to only buy one bottle at a time, but that the rule varies at each store.

Price of sunflower oil expected to rise significantly

Sunflower oil isn’t just a popular cooking oil for thousands of households and families around the world, but is also a key ingredient in the production of various products, including margarine and baby food. Tiny van Boekel, a professor of food technology at Wageningen University, has called the shortage a “major problem,” pointing out that alternatives are not always available and that it takes time for producers to adjust and test their recipes before they are able to hit the shelves.

In addition to this, any alternative oils used would also have to be included in an updated ingredients list on any packaging, resulting in potential changes to nutritional information and packaging costs. “The price of sunflower oil and of products containing sunflower oil will rise sharply due to the scarcity,” Van Boekel explains.

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