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Russia/Ukraine war causing shortage of cooking oil, prices have skyrocketed – Will Belize weather the storm?

Posted: Monday, May 2, 2022. 5:40 pm CST.

By Benjamin Flowers: The ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine continues to have a ripple effect in the world, now creating a global shortage of cooking oil and sending edible oil prices skyward.

According to Business Insider, Ukraine is the largest producer of sunflower seeds and sunflower oil, but when Russia invaded on February 24, harvests were disrupted, reducing availability. Notably, Russia, which is currently under heavy economic sanctions in response to its invasion of Ukraine, is also one of the world’s major vegetable oil producers.

Business Insider also reports that the situation has reached a point in Europe that in countries like Iceland, supermarkets are limiting sunflower oil purchases to two to three bottles per customer and that the cost of sunflower oil is up 1,000 percent. The shortage and price increases have already begun affecting restaurants all over Europe.

But the rising cost of cooking oil extends beyond Europe, causing protests in Indonesia, where cooking oil prices have reportedly gone up over 40 percent. In response to these rising prices, Indonesia, which is the world’s largest producer of palm oil, placed an indefinite ban on palm oil exports.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, issued a video statement on Friday saying that the restriction on palm oil exports will serve to lower domestic palm-oil prices and ensure availability locally for his people. He said that he would monitor and implement the ban until palm oil is domestically abundant and affordable.

The economic times reports that palm oil is perishable which puts a time crunch on Indonesia on how long the country can sustain the ban on exports, primarily because it only consumes around 30 percent of its total palm oil output.

As the cooking oil shortages and price hikes being felt in Europe, ripple to this region, Belize may be able to weather the economic storm by having some great local alternative cooking oils available. In March of this year, Belize saw the groundbreaking for the $8 million Quality Soybean Oil Refinery in Spanish Lookout which has the capacity to supply all the vegetable oil demand in Belize. There is also no shortage of coconut oil in the country, with over 18,000 acres of coconut established in Belize and more being planted each month. In addition, coconut oil is being made in bulk by Silk Grass farms in the Stann Creek district and by a large number of small and medium-sized processors all across Belize. Time will tell what impact the shortage of cooking oil and the consequent rising prices will have on Belize, and whether Belize will truly be able to weather the cooking oil storm.

 

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