Palm Oil: How Indonesian export ban could impact Sheffield restaurants - including fish and chip shops

Palm oil, along with the majority of cooking oils, is set to face a shortage in the UK.

By jimmy johnson
Tuesday, 26th April 2022, 12:44 pm

The war between Ukraine and Russia has had a global effect in multiple ways. One of these is the drop in cooking oil exportation – when put together, the two countries are responsible for roughly 70 per cent of the world’s sunflower oil supply.

As such, this has put pressure on many countries, including Indonesia – the world’s biggest producer of cooking oil. To combat its own inflation plight, Indonesia are set to place a blanket ban on all cooking oil products from the April 28, 2022.

When combined with the issues surrounding the Ukraine/Russia conflict, prices of all cooking oils, including products that contain palm oil, are set to face an imminent price increase across the globe.

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Indonesia's ban on the exportation of palm oil comes as a response to their domestic cost of living crisis.

Importing will be looking to the world’s second biggest supplier of palm oil, Malaysia, to fill the gap left by the ban in Indonesia. However, it is unlikely that they will be able to completely fix the problem.

What will this mean for the UK and Sheffield?

Palm oil and cooking oil in general is used in many different products, including chocolate, shampoo and detergent, amongst others. Any items that contain palm oil are likely to face a price hike in the coming weeks in the UK – not to mention a shortage.

Some supermarkets in the UK began rationing cooking oil products on April 23 – namely rapeseed, olive and sunflower oil. Waitrose and Morrisons are currently limiting their available stock to two cooking oil products per customer, while Tesco will allow you to buy a maximum of three. Iceland, on the other hand, will only permit you to purchase one per customer as of this moment.

Fish and chip shops in the UK are set to take a massive hit under the shortage of cooking oil.

Takeaways, especially those that make heavy use of fried foods, are also set to take a hit over the foreseeable future. A report from the I suggests that up to one in three fish and chip shops across Britain may have to shut down in light of the shortages.

Despite the world running low on cooking oil, there has yet to be any wide scale panic buying in the UK – certainly nothing like the scramble for toilet paper at the beginning of the Covid pandemic.

What is palm oil?

Palm oil is the most exported edible oil in the world – it accounts for around 60 per cent of global all edible oil exports (when including products that it is used in).

There are multiple environmental concerns over how palm oil is harvested – it often involves large-scale deforestation, which destroys the habitats of endangered animals and contributes to the effects of climate change. It is very efficient to produce, requiring little time or land to grow the necessary plants to collect it – which is a leading reason as to why it is so prevalently used.

In 2015, palm oil sales netted a total of roughly £52 billion, making it extremely profitable – and barring the latest worldwide crisis, it is an ever growing market.