SBS Punjabi

Cooking oil shortage forces food price rises

SBS Punjabi

cooking oil shortage

Tarihi Balikca restaurant worker Mahsun Aktas says customers cannot afford oil-driven price rises. Source: AP


Published 28 April 2022 at 8:39am
By Arianna Lucente
Presented by Sumeet Kaur
Source: SBS

Restaurants and retailers worldwide have been hit by the cooking oil shortage caused by the war overseas. Ukraine supplies nearly half of the world's sunflower oil, on top of the 25 per cent from Russia.


Published 28 April 2022 at 8:39am
By Arianna Lucente
Presented by Sumeet Kaur
Source: SBS


For months, Istanbul restaurant Tarihi [[tah-ree-hee]] Balikca [[baa-lic-sja]] has tried to absorb the surging cost of the sunflower oil it uses to fry fish, calamari and mussels.

But in early April, with oil prices nearly four times higher than they were in 2019, the restaurant has finally raised its prices.

Waiter and cook Mahsun Aktas says they held off increasing prices for as long as they could.

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"We resisted. We said, 'Let's wait a bit, maybe the market will improve, maybe (prices) will stabilise.' But we saw that there is no improvement, so we increased the prices (of food). That's how we're able to offset costs."

He says even some longtime customers look at the menu and walk away.

"For the first time this year, we have seen customers turn back after hearing the price of the (traditional Turkish fast-food dish) fish-in-bread. In previous years, they'd see the price increase but wouldn't say anything. But this year, they turn back. The customer cannot afford it."

Global cooking oil prices have been rising since the COVID-19 pandemic began due to poor harvests in South America, virus-related labour shortages, and steadily increasing demand from the biofuel industry.

Ukraine supplies nearly half of the world's sunflower oil, on top of the 25 per cent from Russia, but the war in Ukraine has interrupted shipments and caused cooking oil prices to rise.

It's the latest blow to global food supply and another rising cost that's pinching households and businesses amid soaring inflation.

With the conflict already contributing to high food and energy costs, it is hitting poor people the hardest.

The war has disrupted crucial grain shipments from Ukraine and Russia and worsened a global fertiliser crunch, resulting in costlier and less abundant food.

Steve Mathews is the co-head of research at Gro Intelligence, an agriculture data and analytics company.

He says the war has exacerbated existing issues.

"The cooking oil situation is commensurate with the overall food situation in the world. Prices are up a great deal, over the past year or so, on the order of 40 per cent in some cases in some vegetable oils. And in the case of sunflower oil you can't even get it, even if you want it because of the Ukraine war. It's important to note that the (price) trends were in place before the war started but the war has made things much worse."

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