Tesco Chairman John Allan says 'the worst is still to come'
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Supermarkets, shops, and companies have been affected by product shortages due to the pandemic and – more recently – due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. To make sure there is enough availability for everyone, some supermarkets have introduced new shopping rules in their branches.
Major supermarkets, including Morrisons, Tesco, Waitrose and others, have placed limits on how much cooking oil customers can buy at one time.
This is because of problems within the supply chain caused by the war in Ukraine.
Tesco is allowing its customers to buy three cooking oil items each.
However, Waitrose and Morrisons have placed limits of just two items each.
Tom Holder, Media and Communications Lead at the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said the new rule was a temporary measure to “ensure availability for everyone”.
Iceland, meanwhile, is having to ration sunflower oil in its branches.
Customers are only allowed to buy one bottle of sunflower oil each.
Richard Walker, Managing Director of Iceland, told BBC Radio Four’s Today programme: “It is not as frenzied as the toilet roll panic buying from a couple of years ago, and we are managing to maintain an offer.
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“But yes, we are limiting purchases and we’ve moved into smaller packs to allow existing stocks in the market to service more customers.”
This is because most of the UK’s sunflower oil comes from Ukraine, with restrictions even applying to olive oil and rapeseed oil at some supermarkets.
Mr Holder said retailers were “working with suppliers to ramp up production of alternative cooking oils, to minimise the impact on consumers”.
Mr Walker added that cooking oils have gone up in price in the last year.
He said: “If you look at commodity prices, sunflower oil has gone up 1,000 percent in terms of the commodity cost in the market, palm oil [up] 400 percent, and then there is things like wheat, 50 percent, fertiliser, 350 percent.
“These are all unintended consequences of the war in Ukraine that is affecting supermarkets.”
The price of cooking oils and fats has increased seven percent and is almost a quarter more expensive than a year ago, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
This is in line with the overall rise in food prices as the cost of living crisis continues to impact UK families.
Tesco said in a statement: “We have good availability of cooking oils in stores and online.
“If a customer is unable to find their preferred oil, we have plenty of alternatives to choose from.
“To make sure all of our customers can continue to get what they need, we’ve introduced a temporary buying limit of three items per customer on products from our cooking oil range.”
Sainsbury’s, meanwhile, said it has no plans to introduce limits on products in its stores.
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