Supermarkets start rationing cooking oil: Now shoppers are restricted to three bottles in Tesco, two in Waitrose and Morrisons and just one in Iceland as supplies are decimated by war in Ukraine
- Much of the UK’s sunflower oil comes from Ukraine, with the war limiting supply
- Supermarkets are now restricting how much of the oil shoppers can pick up
- You can get three bottles in Tesco, two in Waitrose and Morrisons, one at Iceland
Supermarkets are imposing limits on how much cooking oil customers can buy due to supplies being hit by the war in Ukraine.
Most of the UK’s sunflower oil comes from Ukraine, where Russia‘s invasion has caused huge disruption to exports.
With sunflower oil in short supply, demand has increased for olive and rapeseed oils.
As a result, all are now being rationed both in-store and online in a number of major supermarkets. Shoppers are restricted to three bottles of cooking oil each in Tesco and two in Waitrose and Morrisons.
Images have also been posted on social media of signs in Iceland’s stores limiting sales of two-litre and five-litre bottles of sunflower oil to one per customer.
Richard Walker, managing director of Iceland supermarkets, said his shops were having to ration sunflower oil sales to one bottle per customer.
“It is not as frenzied as the toilet roll panic buying from a couple of years ago, and we are managing to maintain an offer,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“But yes, we are limiting purchases and we’ve moved into smaller packs to allow existing stocks in the market to service more customers.”
Waitrose have taken to rationing the sale of cooking oils to no more than two bottles per customer, after the war in Ukraine hit global supplies
Sainsury’s have put signs up in their shops advising customers that some products may substitute sunflower oil with rapeseed oil most likely
Empty shelves of sunflower cooking oil in a Tesco supermarket branch in north London
A number of major supermarkets are rationing all cooking oil products. The shortage of sunflower oil has been caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last month
Tom Holder from the British Retail Consortium said the restrictions are a temporary measure ‘to ensure availability for everyone’.
He said: ‘Retailers are working with suppliers to ramp up production of alternative cooking oils, to minimise the impact on consumers.’
UK food manufacturers that use sunflower oil as an ingredient in their products, such as crisps and oven chips, have also reported concerns over supplies. In a move to ensure such items remain available, the Food Standards Agency has allowed suppliers to switch to using rapeseed oil and allow their labels to catch up.
It advised shoppers to look out for stickers on packets and on shelves detailing any recipe change. It comes as the price of cooking oil has rocketed due to shortages. It is now being sold at a price roughly 20 per cent higher than a year ago.
Analysis by retail research firm Assosia suggests that a one-litre bottle of own-brand sunflower oil has gone up by an average of 12p to £1.26 since January 2022 – an increase of more than 10 per cent.
The UK is reported to weeks away from a shortage of sunflower oil due the Russian invasion of Ukraine
Ukraine is one of the leading producers of sunflower oil, but the war has disrupted production, with famers unable to work fields and supply chains unable to get the product to global markets
The UK gets about 80% of it’s sunflower oil from Ukraine (above). Products containing sunflower oil include crisps, mayonnaise, bread, and biscuits
Tesco said: ‘We have good availability of cooking oils in stores and online. To make sure all of our customers can continue to get what they need, we’ve introduced a temporary buying limit of three items per customer on products from our cooking oil range.’
A spokesman for Waitrose said: ‘We are working to ensure customers continue to have a choice of cooking oils.’
A spokesman for Sainsbury’s said: ‘We are working closely with our suppliers to make sure customers continue to have cooking oils to choose from, including olive oil, vegetable oil and rapeseed oil.’