One Side Effect of War in Ukraine? Sunflower Oil Shortages.

The Russian invasion is just one part of a larger problem as cooking oil becomes scarce around the globe

A grocery store shelf with a few bottles of cooking oil. Sunflower oil shortages are happening around the world because of the war in Ukraine.
The cooking oil section of your local supermarket might look a bit different for a while.
Ciell, CC BY-SA 4.0

There are plenty of reasons to savor sunflower oil, whether you’re a home cook who prefers a lack of smoke in the kitchen or someone concerned about the saturated fat in your diet. But if the cooking oil is a mainstay in your cupboard, you might want to start looking into alternatives, at least for a while, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has led to shortages of it around the world.

That’s the big takeaway from a new report from The New York Times. Given that sunflowers are Ukraine’s national flower, this might not be all that surprising — they’re both a symbol of national pride and a leading agricultural export there. And, as the Times points out, Ukraine was until recently “the world’s largest exporter of sunflower oil.”

With Ukraine at war and global supply chains already facing issues, the result has involved a host of cooking oil shortages around the world. The Times notes that the British chain Tesco has asked customers to limit their purchases to three bottles of cooking oil at a time.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine isn’t the only factor behind this; the Times cites droughts in Brazil and Argentina as having made an impact on the industry, as well as restrictions on exports in Indonesia. But the issue isn’t just one that applies to people cooking at home — restaurants are also wrestling with higher cooking oil costs, and are concerned about how much of those to pass along to diners.

It would be challenging at the best of times. Coming in conjunction with the pandemic, it makes things that much more complex. And it’s another example of the ways in which the world is increasingly interconnected, and the dilemmas that can present.


Join America's Fastest Growing Spirits Newsletter THE SPILL. Unlock all the reviews, recipes and revelry — and get 15% off award-winning La Tierra de Acre Mezcal.