French sunflower oil shortage ’caused by panic-buying’

Supermarkets in France have called on shoppers to stop panic-buying sunflower oil - insisting that there is no shortage but saying that excessive buying has created unnecessary problems.

French sunflower oil shortage 'caused by panic-buying'
Empty shelves where sunflower oil is usually found at a supermarket in Paris. (Photo: Thomas Coex / AFP)

Between them, Russia and Ukraine represent 78 percent of the world’s sunflower oil exports and the war has been leading to concerns about shortages – although any effect will not be felt until the summer at the earliest.

Despite this, shoppers have been panic-buying, leading to empty shelves in French supermarkets.

“There is no shortage for current consumption and there will not be until the summer,” Michel-Edouard Leclerc said. His views were echoed by System U president, Dominique Schelcher, who said. “There will be products, don’t panic.”

France also produces its own sunflower oil – visit the south of the country in the summer and its hard to avoid seeing rolling fields of sunflowers.

Nevertheless, some supermarkets have decided to limit the maximum amount of sunflower oil that shoppers can buy in order to ensure there are no acute in-store supply issues caused by unnecessary panic-buying.

Professionals are also facing restrictions. Restaurant wholesaler Metro has limited restaurant customers to a maximum of 50 litres of sunflower oil per day, while industrial-scale food manufacturers have requested permission from the government to use alternatives such as rapeseed, palm or olive oil, if necessary, to make products such as crisps or biscuits without having to change already printed packaging – which would pose logistical issues.

The increase in demand has seen sunflower prices soar from €640 per tonne in February to nearly €1,000 today – increased costs that will in time be passed on to consumers.

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France to build new floating terminal to ensure gas supplies this winter

The French government aims to have its natural gas storage reserves at full capacity by autumn, with European countries bracing for supply cuts from major supplier Russia as the Ukraine war continues, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said on Thursday

France to build new floating terminal to ensure gas supplies this winter

“We are ensuring the complete filling of our storage capacities, aiming to be close to 100 percent by early autumn,” and France will also build a new floating methane terminal to receive more energy supplies by ship, Borne said.

France is much less dependant on Russian gas than its neighbours, and announced earlier this week that it has not received any Russian gas by pipeline since June 15th.

Meanwhile Germany moved closer to rationing natural gas on Thursday as it raised the alert level under an emergency plan after Russia slashed supplies to the country.

“Gas is now a scarce commodity in Germany,” Economy Minister Robert Habeck told reporters at a press conference.

French PM Borne on Thursday also confirmed that the bouclier tarifaire (price shield) will remain in pace until the end of 2022 – this freezes the price of household gas and limits rises in electricity bills for homes to four percent.