The consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are being felt far and wide. Aside from the considerable human suffering inflicted by the conflict, commodity prices, including sunflower oil, have risen sharply.
Sunflower oil is widely used in food manufacturing and in the restaurant and hospitality sector as a frying oil.
Since the war started, more than 200,000 tons of sunflower oil have been held up in Ukraine. With current stocks expected to last a few weeks, sunflower oil prices have risen by 64 percent.See Also:Transportation Strikes in Spain Lead to Decrease in Olive Oil Exports
United States Department of Agriculture data indicates that sunflower oil accounts for nine percent of global edible oil consumption. Ukraine and Russia are responsible for 80 percent of global sunflower oil exports.
However, the scarcity of sunflower oil has given an opportunity for Spanish olive oil to fill the void.
“I like to say we have an ace up our sleeve,” Primitivo Fernandez, president of the national association of edible oil bottlers, told Reuters. “In Spain, bottled oil consumption is guaranteed because we have enough olive oil.”
The industry group estimates that Spain will have 1.5 million tons of olive oil and 250,000 tons of olive pomace oil to make up for the shortfall of sunflower oil imports.
Luis Planas, the Spanish Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, said olive oil is already being sold as an alternative cooking oil.
“I have personally verified in the supermarket that some olive oils are labeled as oil for frying — a practical demonstration that it can and should be used for such,” he said.
Juan Vieites added that the Spanish National Association of Manufacturers of Canned Fish and Seafood, of which he is the secretary-general, has also turned to olive oil to replace sunflower oil.
However, he warned that prices would go up as olive oil is more expensive than sunflower oil and may give a stronger taste to canned products.
Ruben Moreno, the secretary-general of the Spanish Confectionery Association, also cast doubts about the effectiveness of replacing sunflower oil with olive oil for baked goods, but will do it where possible.
The situation was perhaps best encapsulated by Alejandro Aguilar, a chef from Ronda, a small mountaintop city in the heart of Andalusia, the largest olive oil-producing region in the world.
“The plan is to fry with olive [oil],” he told Reuters. “There’s no other option. I don’t like any other oils.”