The message turns absurd… In many supermarkets, a sign warns consumers that only a limited quantity of oil (sometimes a single liter) will be accepted at checkout. Problem: the shelves that carry this message often remain empty of any bottle of vegetable oil, starting with those of sunflower oil.
We know that these ruptures are a consequence of the war in Ukraine, this country being the leading producer of sunflower oil in the world. ” It is also the leading exporter with 50% of world exports», points out Thierry Pouch, Chief Economist at the Permanent Assembly of Chambers of Agriculture.
→ EXPLANATION. War in Ukraine: France could face a shortage of sunflower oil
Every year, France imports 144,000 tonnes of sunflower oil, 90% of which comes from Ukraine. “Despite its national production, France has few oil processing factories,” notes Thierry Pouch.
Beware of false claims
Consumers are not the only ones facing the supply problem. On April 25, the Ministry of Finance announced that manufacturers of margarine, crisps, sauces, biscuits or dishes in sauce were authorized to replace sunflower oil in their recipes without modifying their packaging, for a period of up to six months.
On the other hand, in the case of the addition of allergenic products, or in the event that the packaging contains claims that are no longer true, such as “100% organic” Where ” without palm oil “ for example, the indication of a recipe change must be immediate. According to the Ministry of the Economy, several hundred, even a thousand, references could be the subject of these requests for exemptions.
The industrialists had seized the services of Bercy several weeks ago to alert on the tensions of supply of sunflower oil, and to ask the authorization to modify the receipts. The NGO Foodwatch then insisted on the need for a “full transparency”.
“In the beginning, stock-outs were mainly due to so-called “precautionary” purchases by consumers, says a store manager. The more people were told not to worry about a possible shortage, the more they believed in the shortage and rushed to buy several bottles of oil. » Hence these restrictions in stores.
According to Olivier Dauvers, publisher and distribution specialist, these precautionary purchases are no longer the only cause that explains these empty shelves. “We are now facing a real shortage, he said. The few tankers of sunflower oil that still arrive from Ukraine are now the subject of fierce competition between oil bottlers for consumers and agrifood manufacturers. »
The ton at more than 2,200 €
Restaurant owners are, of course, concerned. “Sunflower oil is a staple in our kitchens, says Laurent Fréchet, president of the catering branch of the National Group of Independents (GNI). For the moment, we still manage to supply ourselves, but it is a sword of Damocles. »
→ EXPLANATION. War in Ukraine: which countries are likely to be most affected by the wheat shortage?
This shortage, or this fear of shortage, will undoubtedly have consequences on the sale prices of oil on the shelves, or on processed products. “The ton of sunflower oil exceeded €2,200, whereas it was around just over €1,000 at the start of 2021, which was already quite high”, says Thierry Pouch, according to whom this rise in prices should also affect rapeseed and palm oil. Large retailers expect, in fact, requests for price increases from manufacturers.