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Panic buying of sunflower oil and flour in Spain

Sunflower oil and flour are currently sold out in Spanish supermarkets or are in limited supply due to hoarding after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Madrid, 14 March 2022 (dpa/MIA) — Sunflower oil and flour are currently sold out in Spanish supermarkets or are in limited supply due to hoarding after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Spain is particularly dependent on Ukraine for sunflower oil and a total of 62% of Spanish demand recently came from the now embattled country.

Empty shelves could be found in many supermarkets. “We have reordered cooking oil, but we have not received anything for days,” an employee of a supermarket near Barcelona said on Monday. The same applied to flour, which was also currently out of stock.

Some supermarkets limited the sale of sunflower oil to 5 liters per person.

Shelves for pasta, oatmeal and pulses also had large gaps or were almost empty.

Spain mainly produces olive oil, which is more expensive, while customers avoid rapeseed oil, which is also cheaper, due to a toxic oil scandal in 1981. Street traders brought toxic industrial rapeseed oil to the market, which caused thousands of deaths.

The umbrella organization of wholesalers and supermarkets, Asedas, had recently pointed out “unusual consumer behaviour” in the purchase of sunflower oil and stressed that the supply of cooking oil and other groceries was generally secure in Spain.

According to media reports, bottlenecks could occur at the earliest in the summer if the next harvest in Ukraine fails.

Farmers’ associations are worried that cattle feed could become scarce in case of long-term shortfalls in the import of maize, grain and oilseed cake from Ukraine.

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