“Owing to the situation in Ukraine, there are some problems with the supply of sunflower oil. For this reason, purchases are limited to three one-litre bottles or one five-litre bottle per customer per day. Our apologies,” said a sign in the window of various Madrid supermarkets owned by El Corte Inglés.
Mercadona, Spain’s largest supermarket chain, was also limiting purchases to five litres per customer, it said on its website.
Such limits were introduced as a result of “unusual customer behaviour” with some rushing to purchase sunflower oil which had created an “abnormal” level of demand, said ASEDAS, which represents Spanish supermarkets and food distributors.
Some customers were seeking to stock up ahead of possible shortages given that Ukraine supplies half of the world’s sunflower oil, or 14 percent of global vegetable oil supplies, analysts say.
Battling a massive Russian invasion which began on February 24, Ukraine on Sunday introduced a string of export restrictions, meaning a license is now required by the authorities for the export of certain agricultural products, including sunflower oil.
“For now, there is no problem with shortages,” said Primitivo Fernández, head of Anierac, the association representing Spain’s edible oil industry.
But if the conflict continued, “it is likely there could be some problems getting hold of oils that originate from the whole Black Sea area, not only Ukraine,” he told AFP.
Famous for its far-reaching sunflower fields, Ukraine is the world’s top producer of both oilseeds and sunflower oil.