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FOOD & DRINK

Spain’s supermarkets ration sunflower oil over Ukraine war

Spanish supermarkets began rationing the sale of sunflower oil on Tuesday to stop customers stockpiling over shortage fears due to Russia's invasion of key supplier Ukraine.

Spain's supermarkets ration sunflower oil over Ukraine war
Mercadona, Spain's largest supermarket chain, IS also limiting purchases to five litres per customer, it said on its website. (Photo by YURI CORTEZ / AFP)

“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.

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MONEY

One in three Spaniards can’t afford to go on holiday this summer: study

One third of Spaniards can't afford to pay for a holiday this summer and almost half the population is having trouble making ends meet, according to new data from Spain's national stats agency.

One in three Spaniards can't afford to go on holiday this summer: study

Data from Spain’s national statistics body, the Instituto Nacional de Estadística (INE), has revealed that one in three Spaniards cannot afford to take a week’s holiday.

The 2021 Living Conditions Survey, published this week, also concluded that over one in four Spaniards (27.8 percent) were at risk of poverty or social exclusion, a figure which represents an increase of 1.6 percent on the 2019 study.

The INE considers someone at risk of poverty if their income level is below the the national average; that they are suffering “severe material and social deprivation”; or that their household is classified as “low intensity in employment.”

There are 13.2 million people who meet at least one of these criteria in Spain.

The study, which the INE publishes once a year, is the most detailed reference for measuring poverty at the national level, and the numbers also reveal that there are 10.3 million people in Spain with incomes below the poverty line.

In 2020, that threshold was €9,535 per annum for a single-person household and €20,024 for a household of two adults and two children.

Furthermore, there are another 4 million Spaniards facing “severe material deprivation,” which is defined as people who cannot afford expenses such as going on holiday for at least one week a year (32.7 percent of Spaniards), eating meat or fish every two days (4.7 percent), having the financial capability to deal with unforeseen events (33.4 percent) or maintaining a comfortable temperature at home (14.3 percent), something particularly important during the summer months in Spain but made much more difficult by increasing electricity prices.

READ ALSO: How much does it cost to have air conditioning at home in Spain?

North-South divide

Many countries have a famous North-South divide – Italy, England, and the United States, to name just three. Spain can be included on this list, and this is especially true when delving into the INE data.

According to the study, economically speaking Spain is increasingly divided into horizontal halves: in southern Spain poverty levels even double those in the north.

A third of people living in Andalusia and Extremadura are at risk of poverty, for example.

In the Canaries, Murcia, Castilla-La Mancha, and Valencia, the figure is one in four.

Contrast that, however, with the data from northern Spain: only one in ten people in Navarra and Basque Country are at risk of poverty; in Madrid (admittedly central Spain but it is the capital) and Catalonia, the figure is slightly higher but still only around 15 percent.

Inflation

The economic hardship comes amid not only Spain’s recovery from the pandemic, but also the double shock of skyrocketing inflation, which reached a 37 year high this week, and crippling energy bills caused by knock-on effects from war in Ukraine.

A loss of earnings during Covid-19 lockdown, combined with Spaniards feeling the pinch of inflation in their shopping baskets and rapidly increasing energy bills, means that more Spaniards are being pushed into poverty and the gap between the rich and poor in Spanish society is widening.

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