German supermarkets urge people to not panic buy cooking oils
Empty supermarket shelves became one of the defining images of the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, and now, with the war in Ukraine causing uncertainty about the supply of certain items of food, the same thing is happening again. Retailers are urging people in Germany not to panic buy products like sunflower oil and flour.
Consumers in Germany stockpiling cooking oil and flour
Responding to reports circulating in the newspapers and on social media that the war in Ukraine could affect Germany’s supply of cooking oils and other products, some consumers have apparently taken it upon themselves to stock up.
Images on social media show some German supermarket shelves stripped bare of cooking oil and flour - as they were back in March 2020 of toilet paper, hand sanitiser and pasta. This phenomenon has been confirmed by a number of retailers. “In our branches, we are seeing increased demand, especially for sunflower oil, rapeseed oil and olive oil,” said a spokesperson for Aldi Süd.
The background to the rush is the war in Ukraine. The country is the world’s most important producer of sunflowers and therefore also sunflower crude oil. Since the Russian invasion began nearly three weeks ago, all exports have stopped, which is having an impact on markets overseas. “We have noticed there is a shortage of edible oils,” a spokesperson from the German supermarket Real told Welt.
Retailers say they may have to limit sunflower oil sales
However, supermarkets in Germany emphasised that there was no need for consumers to panic buy products, or to ration the supplies they already have, pointing to the variety of alternatives available on their shelves.
Should there continue to be heightened demand for certain products, chains like Aldi and Real have said they might introduce measures to prevent customers from buying more than “normal household quantities” - policies that were utilised during the early stages of the pandemic.
The Federal Association of the German Food Trade (BVLH) has called on the population to not panic buy. “As at the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, [we should] act in solidarity with each other and only buy products in normal quantities,” spokesperson Christian Böttcher told RND.
The conflict is already making itself known in the price of certain products in Germany. Most recently, the cost of cooking oil has risen significantly, with a cheap bottle now costing almost 2 euros, up from less than 1 euro just a few months ago. Experts say that uncertainty on the market is likely to continue, and that the situation could even worsen in the coming weeks.
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