Europe is facing sunflower oil shortages. Similarly to British supermarkets, Lidl likewise imposed purchase limits on cooking oil in its Estonian stores, but has since lifted them. The shortage and price increase on cooking oil, however, has put several Estonian food industry businesses in a bind.
Until recently, Lidl had imposed a limit of five bottles of sunflower oil per customer. Purchase limits applied to toilet paper, salt and some other dry goods.
"These limits were first and foremost to ensure that there would be enough to go around for all clients," said Katrin Seppel, director of communications for Lidl Estonia. "We saw that panic buying was starting to happen and people had started buying up goods in large quantities, although we don't believe there's any reason for doing so."
The chain has nonetheless since dropped the purchase limits.
"We did indeed have limits on some foodstuffs, toiletries, but currently we don't see any need to set limits, as our supplies are secure and there are enough goods to go around."
Other major chains confirmed to ETV news broadcast "Aktuaalne kaamera" that they have not imposed any such limits themselves, however Rimi spokesperson Katrin Bats stated that if supply difficulties continue and people start buying up huge amounts of goods, in the interests of its retail customers, Rimi will not rule out imposing purchase limits in the future.
Cooking oil shortages are hitting food producers as well.
"It's having a drastic impact, because one thing is a price increase, but another is availability," said Reigo Rusing, board member at snack producer Balsnack. "Even if we wanted to grow by 20 percent with current price increases, the availability of oil would be very complicated. Our current supplier absolutely cannot increase its volumes in Estonia."
Balsnack, whose products include chips, breakfast items and birdseed, uses rapeseed oil, not sunflower oil, but the former has been affected by broader cooking oil shortages as well.
"Rapeseed oil has been affected today as well to the extent that when there is a sunflower oil crisis in Europe, then rapeseed oil is bought here, from our region as well, and that has led to shortages and increased prices," Rusing explained. "One reason for this is the fear of losing out on goods, and everyone buys up as much as they can."
Editor: Aili Vahtla