Shortage of sunflower oil: our tips and alternatives to replace it


Shortage of sunflower oil: our tips and alternatives to replace it

SUNFLOWER OIL. While sunflower oil is becoming increasingly rare, everyone is increasing their tips for replacing it in the kitchen. Where can you buy it? At what price ? What are the alternatives ? Here is all you need to know.

[Updated May 18, 2022 10:55 AM] Having become nearly impossible to find on supermarket shelves, sunflower oil has become a rare commodity. Like many, you have many questions that we will answer. Are we heading for a long-term shortage? Where can you still find sunflower oil? At what price ? What can you replace it with to season your salads, make mayonnaise, cook fries or make a cake? Is rapeseed oil the best alternative? Can manufacturers change their recipes? Will we still be able to eat fries with our burgers? Here is the answer to your questions.

Ukraine is the world's largest sunflower producer and the price of sunflower seeds is skyrocketing and expected to continue for several reasons:

You are struggling to find sunflower oil and are looking for alternatives for your cooking recipes. Know that you are not the only one: olive, rapeseed, peanut whose consumption has also increased sharply: up to 78% for rapeseed oil according to Emily Mayer, expert in consumer products at the Iri Institute and interviewed by the newspaper Le Parisien. But which oil is better to turn to? It all depends on the recipe and your tastes.

For fried foods, on the other hand, the situation becomes more complicated. Frying imposes very high temperatures on the oils (up to almost 200 degrees), which requires a stable oil. This is the case of sunflower oil or so-called "special frying" oil which contains large quantities of sunflower oil. However, this is not the case for other oils, including rapeseed oil, which is less resistant to high temperatures. The bottles also often specify that it should not be used hot, at least not to the point of smoking it because the omega 3 and 6 it contains do not withstand this heat. The strong rise in temperature of vegetable oils would lead to the diffusion of toxic substances, "aldehydes", considered carcinogenic. The use of these oils in frying, even rapeseed oil, is therefore particularly prohibited with one exception: HOLL rapeseed oil, specially made for this and which can well be maintained at more than 200 degrees in the same way as HO sunflower oil. On the other hand, you can opt for olive oil, which is more expensive but which will offer a very pleasant crispiness, while limiting the rise in temperature to 160 degrees if possible. Last solution, peanut oil which also resists high temperatures. But watch out for allergens in this case! Finally, if the taste doesn't bother you, there is still the solution of animal fats: duck fat, goose fat or lard with beef fat will do the trick.

No shortage for the time being but real difficulties of restocking and supply are noted as much among wholesalers as in supermarkets. "In France, today, there is no shortage for everyday consumption and there won't be any until the summer. Pasta, there is. For sunflower oil, our stocks go until June. Consumers are starting to overstock, they are the ones who are causing the shelves to not be restocked", estimated Michel-Edouard Leclerc in early April on BFM TV. The tendency to stockpile is also felt among the heavyweights in the sector. Questioned by Les Echos, the Lesieur brand, leader in France, affirms that consumption has jumped by 40% in a few weeks. As a result, in a few weeks, supermarket shelves were emptied at breakneck speed. "The oil market is usually a stable market and we cannot double our production capacity in three weeks. The adaptation of our production requires time, warns the Avril group (Lesieur, Puget), in an interview carried out by CheckNews for Liberation. However, we have enough stocks to continue our deliveries until the next harvest in October." Do not panic !

Mistrust ! With the growing shortage, prices have risen in many places. On the internet, you can even find sunflower oil traded at exorbitant prices on sites like Le Bon Coin or Amazon. The best thing is to monitor the stocks in your supermarket, to find out from store managers about possible supplies... And to have a little luck and patience! In many supermarkets, volumes have been rationed: often no more than six bottles per customer, while border supermarkets have also seen an influx from neighboring countries, in particular Germany, where the precious oil is also hunted down. One last piece of advice: to limit the effects of this shortage, consume only what you need and if possible fall back on other oils when possible.

With the increase in the price of sunflower seeds and the supply difficulties, the price of a liter of sunflower oil has already experienced a serious blow of heat: according to INSEE, the price of a tonne of sunflower oil on the market went from 1500 dollars last February to more than 2250 dollars in March, a record! The outbreak is expected to continue. For now, the consequences are not really visible in stores since stocks are still based on old prices. What will happen this summer and especially next winter? Here we touch on the great unknown of this crisis situation. To give you an idea, you should know that you can still find cans of sunflower oil around 2 euros per liter for the most affordable and around 3 to 4 euros for major brand or so-called premium references. You still have to find them on the shelves. Speculation has already taken hold on the Internet, where on online sales sites can be found cans of oil at extravagant prices: from 10 to 25 euros per liter of sunflower oil found on Amazon or Ebay!

For restaurateurs, these supply difficulties sound like a real headache. Restaurants used to serving fried foods (French fries but also tempuras, donuts or fried fish such as carp and fries restaurants in Alsace) should be particularly affected. Because who says supply difficulties and shortages also says rising prices! Sunflower oil prices have already jumped, following the rise in sunflower seed prices which have doubled in a few weeks. "As catering artisans, we know how to find alternatives, especially with beef or duck fat. We can also opt for gratins or sautéed potatoes, which a fast food restaurant cannot do", explains Jean Terlon vice-president of the UMIH (Union of Trades and Hotel Industries) interviewed by La Dépêche. So expect changes to the menu or increases on certain dishes. Fast food restaurants, on the other hand, have no choice and should be forced to raise their prices. The whole strategy will consist in making this increase as painless as possible, for example by keeping call prices on inexpensive menus or flagship products such as children's menus and increasing them on more upscale products.