Buying cooking oil limited in some Portuguese and Spanish stores because of increased demand

Some supermarkets in Portugal and Spain limit the sale of cooking oil because of the increased demand for sunflower oil coming from Ukraine.

© Jordan Cormack

At least two Portuguese supermarket chains issued guidance to ration the sale of cooking oil, according to Jornal de Notícias.

Cooking oil purchases may be limited to 3 bottles per client as seen in one of the 328 Continente supermarkets of Portugal. “Due to the sharp increase in demand for cooking oil, we inform you that the sale of the product is limited to three units per customer. Buy only what you need,” the note to customers says.

On the Continente e-shopping website, buying cooking oil is currently limited “due to high demand”.

Mercadona, a Spanish brand that has 29 stores in Portugal, is also said to limit the quantity of cooking oil to buy.

The restrictions are most likely due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Ukraine is actually a large producer of sunflower oil. Sowing sunflower crop occurs in March and the events could disturb the production for this year.

This week Ukraine restricted exports of sunflower oil with the need for a license, and banned exports of other commodities like wheat, beef, sugar and salt to prevent a “humanitarian crisis in Ukraine” Roman Leshchenko, Ukraine’s minister of agrarian and food policy, wrote in a statement on Facebook.

Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa warned Thursday that there would be a price increase for some goods, but also reassured that “there would be no shortage of any essential goods”.

Although it noted an increased demand for non-perishable products, Lidl Portugal, however, credited the current behavior to the “solidarity of Portuguese towards Ukraine” rather than panic buys. Supply was not affected in Lidl stores it said.

The situation doesn’t seem to affect only Portugal. ASEDAS, the Spanish Association of retailers and supermarkets, released a note on March 4, about sunflower oil. Some companies limited the sale of sunflower oil due to “atypical consumer behavior that took place in recent hours”.

It particularly affected products related to sunflower oil from Ukraine. ASEDAS however noted Spain was actually one of the largest producers of cooking oil in the world for several categories of vegetable fat.

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