Source: Unsplash/The Grocer

Inset: sunflower oil was nowhere to be found at Aldi’s Colliers Wood store

The war in Ukraine is causing price rises and availability issues for sunflower oil – with sources warning supply could dry up in a matter of weeks.

Five-litre bottles of Pura sunflower oil and vegetable oil were listed as ‘no longer stocked’ on Morrisons’ website at the time of writing, as well as one-litre bottles of its own-label oil and one-litre Flora Sunflower oil with vitamin E.

Aldi - which only sells a one-litre bottled SKU under its Solesta brand (as well as a 200ml spray) - said it was not experiencing any availability issues, but the discounter’s Colliers Wood and North Finchley stores were completely out of stock of sunflower oil when visited this week by The Grocer.

On the branded side, supplier KTC last month halted all new sunflower oil sales, warning it would be “difficult to offset the losses” if the war continued for a long time. Its sunflower SKUs have now almost vanished from the mults [Assosia 8 w/e 29 March 2022]. Princes has cancelled branded promos but was “not discontinuing any SKUs at present”, it said.

There was still ample stock available across most retailers at the time of writing.

However, Tesco’s own-label sunflower oil and vegetable oil one-litre and three-litre SKUs have risen from £1.09 to £1.20 and £3.25 to £3.50 respectively. In Sainsbury’s, one-litre sunflower oil bottles have risen from £1.09 to £1.20, while one-litre vegetable oil bottles have risen from £1.15 to £1.20 and three-litre vegetable oil bottles are up from £3.40 to £3.50 [Assosia].

A Sainsbury’s spokeswoman said it was “monitoring the situation closely and working with our suppliers to make sure customers continue to have cooking oils to choose”.

Our source suggested those with stock just had longer left on contracts. “No one’s going to have long-term supply this year. I can’t see anyone will have any stock beyond a month.”

“The war in Ukraine has disrupted supplies of sunflower oil to the UK,” affecting a wide range of products, said BRC deputy director of food Andrea Martinez-Inchausti.

“Where sunflower oil exists as an ingredient in products, such as crisps, retailers will be substituting it with other safe oils, such as rapeseed oil. Retailers are looking to change product labels as soon as possible and will imprint information on substitute oil on to existing labels.”