Across the big four and Waitrose, one-litre bottles of own-label vegetable oil (most of which is rapeseed-based) have soared from an average of 98p last year to £1.18, while sunflower oil prices have increased from about £1 for a one-litre bottle of own-label to £1.18 [Brandview.co.uk].
Three-litre bottles of vegetable oil have risen even more steeply in price by 23% to an average of £3.10 and the sharp upward trend is not restricted to own label. One-litre bottles of Crisp 'n Dry have leapt from an average price of £1.26 across the big four and in Waitrose to £1.45.
As highlighted in The Grocer earlier this year, commodity prices for rape and sunflower oil started rising in July in the wake of the hot, dry summer that brought severe droughts to Russia and Ukraine and damaged part of the European crop.
Prices were driven higher still when hot weather affected crops in Canada, which would usually plug any gap left by European shortfalls.
Because products consisted of nothing but the oil itself and packaging, margins were already tight and it was inevitable suppliers would pass on rising commodity costs to consumers, said Mintec commodities analyst Liliana Gonzalez.
The same was true for products that relied on a particular oil in their production, such as crisps made with sunflower oil.
The BRC this week published its shop price index for October, which showed food inflation at 4.4%.