Lack of sunflower oil: McDonald’s changes the French fries recipe

Lack of sunflower oil
McDonald’s changes fries recipe

Sunflower oil is largely sold out in Germany’s supermarkets because of the Ukraine war. Gastronomy and the food industry are also feeling the shortage. First companies have to adjust their recipes and it looks like further price increases.

Because of the war in Ukraine, sunflower oil will remain in short supply for consumers, gastronomy and food manufacturers for the foreseeable future. Since Ukraine is the largest supplier, experts do not expect the situation to improve for the time being. Large companies like McDonald’s have already changed their cooking oil mixture for the preparation of French fries. “Ukraine is the world’s most important supplier of sunflower oil,” says a spokesman for the Association of Oilseed Processing Industries (Ovid) in Berlin. More than half of the global exports of sunflower oil come from the Eastern European country. In Ukraine, so-called crude oil has so far been produced from sunflower seeds and shipped across the Black Sea, exports have come to a standstill because of the war. “It’s not going to improve anytime soon.”

Sunflower oil has been largely sold out in the supermarkets for weeks. But the shortage has long since affected large companies as well. “We use a vegetable oil mixture to fry our fries – including sunflower and rapeseed oil – with sunflower oil only making up a small part,” says a spokeswoman for McDonald’s Germany in Munich. “Due to the currently limited availability, we will temporarily further reduce this lower proportion of sunflower oil.” The guests can therefore still get fries “in the usual quality from us”.

The lack of sunflower oil does not mean that citizens have to do without fries, bratwurst, donuts and other fried foods. Rapeseed oil is a suitable substitute and, unlike sunflower oil, there is no risk of shortage. “There’s no problem with rap,” says the Ovid spokesman. Because in Germany, France or Poland, rapeseed is grown on almost a million hectares each. According to the association, the fact that rapeseed oil is currently not available or only available with difficulty in many supermarkets is due to hamster purchases and logistics problems. For example, there are no truck drivers from Ukraine, many of whom have previously worked for Polish haulage companies.

Gastronomy and the food industry feel, as do consumers, that the cost of cooking oil is skyrocketing. “In any case, we can see that the prices for cooking oils have risen drastically,” says Thomas Geppert, the state manager of the hotel and restaurant association Dehoga in Munich. “It is quite conceivable that one or the other restaurateur will adapt his recipe.”

Bakeries are under pressure

Further price increases are foreseeable for many foods and in the catering trade in the coming months. McDonald’s has already recommended “price adjustments” to its restaurant operators for some items on the menu. And the Central Association of the German Bakery Trade says: “In addition to the increased raw material prices, bakers have been worried for months about the higher personnel and, above all, exorbitant energy costs.” Accordingly, raw materials and materials make up around 18 to 25 percent of the costs in a bakery, and staff around 40 to 50 percent. “All three cost factors – personnel, raw materials, energy – are currently under massive pressure and are forcing bakeries to check their calculations or adjust them if necessary.”

For food manufacturers, the lack of sunflower oil also poses a problem in another respect: the information on the packaging must be correct. “Packaging is often produced months in advance, making it difficult to make quick adjustments, especially since we also have bottlenecks with packaging materials,” says a spokeswoman for the Federal Association of the German Food Industry. “Here, a bottleneck can be prevented by appropriate regulations from the authorities.”

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