Food processors are being forced to find alternatives to sunflower oil, which has become scarce and expensive due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Between them, the two nations produced well over half the world’s supply of sunflower seeds and oil. Prices have now gone up more than 10 times, but scarcity is an even bigger problem.
Processors are having to turn to alternatives, but some of these have their own problems. Palm oil has been criticized on environmental grounds, because it’s often harvested from deforested areas. British grocery chain Iceland has had to backtrack on a promise to keep palm oil out of its store-brand products because its suppliers couldn’t find enough sunflower oil, the chain’s managing director told Bloomberg. Rapeseed oil is a popular substitute – so popular that it, too, is getting hard to find. Soybean oil is usually made from genetically modified beans, which is unacceptable to many trade customers.
In addition, processors who substitute for sunflower oil, for example to fry snack chips, are faced with having to change the ingredient declarations on their packaging.