Supermarkets limit cooking oil purchases as Ukraine war hits supplies

Food Standards Scotland said measures were being taken to make sure foods such as crisps, breaded fish, frozen vegetables and chips remain on sale.

Tesco, Morrisons and Waitrose supermarkets limit cooking oil purchases as Ukraine war hits supplies iStock
The safety watchdog said some manufacturers had urgently replaced their usual oil before being able to make the change on the label.

Supermarkets across Scotland have placed limits on how much cooking oil customers can buy due to supply-chain problems caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Tesco is allowing three items per customer while Waitrose and Morrisons have placed limits of just two products each.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC), a trade association for businesses, said it was a temporary measure with companies working with suppliers to ramp up production of alternative cooking oils.

Food Standards Scotland advised consumers that some products labelled as containing sunflower oil may instead contain refined rapeseed oil due to the conflict in Ukraine.

Rapeseed fields in Angus.iStock
Rapeseed fields in Angus.

The safety watchdog said some manufacturers had urgently replaced their usual oil before being able to make the change on the label.

Tom Holder, BRC spokesperson, said: “The war in Ukraine has disrupted supplies of sunflower oil to the UK. Some retailers have introduced limits on the number of bottles customers can buy as a temporary measure to ensure availability for everyone.

“Where sunflower oil exists as an ingredient in products, retailers will be substituting it with other safe oils, such as rapeseed oil. Retailers are also working with suppliers to ramp up production of alternative cooking oils, to minimise the impact on consumers.”

Food Standards Scotland said measures were taken to make sure foods such as crisps, breaded fish, frozen vegetables and chips remain on sale.

It said the risk of substituting sunflower oil with refined rapeseed oil is very low with allergic reactions to rapeseed being very rare and mild if they occur.

In a joint statement with Food Standards Scotland, Food Standards Agency chief executive Emily Miles said: “Retaining consumer trust remains an absolute priority for both organisations and we are urgently working with the food industry and other partners to ensure labels on food where sunflower oil has been replaced by refined rapeseed oil are made accurate as soon as possible.”

Recent data showed cooking oil was one of a range of food staples to have its price shoot up.

The price of cooking oils and fats went up seven per cent and is nearly a quarter more expensive than a year ago, the Office for National Statistics said on April 13.

Sainsbury’s said it had no plans to introduce limits.

A spokesperson told STV News: “We are working closely with our suppliers to make sure customers continue to have cooking oils to choose from, including olive oil, vegetable oil and rapeseed oil.”

A spokesperson for Waitrose said: “We want to ensure customers continue to have a choice of cooking oil so we are asking them to buy no more than two units each.”

STV News has asked Lidl, Aldi, Morrisons, Asda and Iceland for comment.