Food manufacturers

Food makers change recipe as UK faces sunflower oil shortage

UK’s leading sunflower oil bottler says it only has a few weeks supply left

Makers of foods such as crisps and crisps are having to change their recipes as the UK faces a shortage of sunflower oil.

Edible oilswhich packages three-quarters of the oil for the UK retail market, says it only has a few weeks supply left due to the war in Ukraine which has caused a major disruption to its supply chain.

80% of the world’s sunflower oil supply comes from Russia and Ukraine.

Foods such as crisps, baked crisps and granola bars all contain sunflower oil, and the shortage is so worrying that makers of these products are having to change their recipes.

Kim Matthews, commercial director at Edible Oils, told the BBC: “From the perspective of British consumers, sunflower oil is the biggest oil. It is used more than anything else.

“It’s a rapidly changing situation. We’re still trying to see if we can get more, but it looks very tight.

“At the moment, Ukrainian farmers should sow the seeds now for the harvest in October and November. Obviously that won’t happen… we’ll probably miss the season, so we could be affected for 12 to 18 months. .”

Manufacturers are replacing sunflower oil with refined rapeseed oil, but since the switch has to happen quickly, some are unable to change the labeling of their products in time.

Some food labels may state that the product contains sunflower oil when in fact it has been replaced with refined rapeseed oil (iStock)

This has forced the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to warn that some food products labeled as containing sunflower oil may in fact contain refined canola oil instead.

In a reportthe FSA said: “The majority of UK sunflower oil comes from Ukraine and food companies here are warning that supplies of sunflower oil are likely to run out within weeks, with some companies already experiencing serious difficulties.

“This led some food manufacturers to urgently replace sunflower oil with refined rapeseed oil before they could make the change on the label.

“We therefore advise food products labeled as containing sunflower oil to have been produced using refined rapeseed oil and consumers should seek additional information provided by retailers and manufacturers to stay informed. “

He added that the food safety risk of this substitute is “very low”.

Other products that commonly contain sunflower oil include ready meals, cookies, and mayonnaise.

FSA chief executive Emily Miles said: “We know that allergic reactions to rapeseed oil are very rare and – if they occur – are mild.

“Maintaining consumer confidence remains a top priority for both organizations and we are working urgently with the food industry and other partners to ensure that labels on foods where sunflower oil has been replaced with refined rapeseed oil be made correct as soon as possible.”

Andrea Martinez-Inchausti, Food Director of the British Retail Consortium, said: “The war in Ukraine has disrupted the supply of sunflower oil to the UK. Where sunflower oil exists as an ingredient in products, retailers will substitute it with other safe oils, such as canola oil.

“Retailers are looking to change product labels as soon as possible; where sunflower oil is a key ingredient, such as crisps, retailers will print alternative oil information on existing labels.

“Retailer customer services will answer questions about all their own-brand products.”

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