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Woolworths and Pick n Pay have started rationing sunflower oil

Business Insider SA
Woolworths rations sunflower oil to one per customer.
Woolworths rations sunflower oil to one per customer.
  • Retailers have started placing limits on how much sunflower oil customers can purchase.
  • Woolworths is rationing the sale of its two litre bottle of sunflower oil to one per customer.
  • Pick n Pay is only allowing customers to buy four bottles when they order online.
  • The war in Ukraine, the largest exporter of sunflower oil, has caused supply shocks leading to price hikes.
  • For more stories go to www.BusisnessInsider.co.za.

Some South African retailers have begun imposing per-customer limits on cooking oil, with Russia's war wreaking havoc on the supply of sunflower oil globally.

Woolworths and Pick n Pay have become the first retailers to introduce buying limits on sunflower oil for shoppers. However, canola oil, which is also a staple oil in South Africa, is not affected. 

Retailer Woolworths has placed a limit of one two litre bottle of sunflower oil per customer. Pick n Pay, which is also running promotional activity on its house brand of cooking oil, is rationing the sale of two litre sunflower oil to no more than four bottles per order on its online store.

Morne Botes, commercial director for SOILL, which owns the B-Well and African Gold oil brands, warned against consumer panic buying, citing that the industry will still be able to ensure there is enough cooking oil to meet normal demand.

"If, however, in the short term, there is a significant spike, then we cannot produce stock fast enough, and therefore, there might be out of stocks. Prices will increase, and that is a reality," he previously told Business Insider South Africa.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has caused major disruptions to the export of edible oils, which is resulting in worldwide shortages. Ukraine also accounts for being the largest exporter of sunflower oil

While South Africa does produce cooking oil locally, it still relies on both Russia and Ukraine and other countries in the Black Sea region to help it meet demand – growing at 2% a year. South Africa only produces 800,000 MT tons of oil per year and imports 30% to meet local demand.

The war also sent prices of several essential commodities soaring, including edible oils such as sunflower oil – which was already in short supply over the last few years after poor harvests of sunflower, palm, soya, and canola in crucial producing regions of the world. 

At the start of April, sunflower and canola oil had already risen sharply price in just two months since the war started, with the oils increasing by 55% and 40%, respectively. Prices on South African retail shelves are expected to rise by 35% in the short term or between R99,99 and R119,99 for a bottle of two litres of sunflower oil.

A two litre bottle of sunflower oil at Woolworths is already retailing at R99,00, while Pick Pay was already selling at R112,99 by the first week of April. It's now running a promotion for the same oil at R89,00.

Woolworths and Pick n Pay did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.

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