May 23, 2022

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Economy: Sunflower oil is so expensive that they can bring back palm oil

Serious decisions on environmental protection could be overturned by the Russian-Ukrainian war in the food sector, especially in the case of high-stability palm oil production, Greens warn. Russia and Ukraine play a major role in the food industry and are major producers of sunflower oil. Russia and Ukraine account for 7% of worldwide use of sunflower oil, and half of Ukrainian production is purchased by the European Union.

Empty shelves due to the Russo-Ukrainian war on April 19, 2022 in Berlin due to difficulty in delivering flour and sunflower oil

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However, exports were significantly pushed back by the war. Ukrainian ports have not been able to perform their duties, rail and road transport has been banned, and trade has been hampered by sanctions imposed on occupying Russia. This then leads to it

With a 55 percent price increase in two months, the price of sunflower oil has been rising due to limited stocks.

And many food companies are considering switching to other products, such as rapeseed, palm, soybean and, in special cases, olive oil. Substitutes were more expensive than sunflower oil in the past, but were forced to keep pace with declining commodities and rising prices by manufacturers.

Sunflower oil in the production line

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The Politics Ara RemindsMany food retailers, such as the British food chain Iceland Foods, have already indicated that they will switch to or use palm oil or soybean oil. In its report on this, Iceland scattered ashes on its head because of palm oil, but without it, “a wide range of products will disappear from our freezers and shelves, including frozen potatoes and already potato products”. The use of sunflower oil is very widespread in the food industry, it is an important ingredient for many products, but its technical use is also widespread: they bake products or smear them on baking trays and machines.

In the past there have been many criticisms about the sustainability of palm oil production and the environmental impact. Following deforestation linked to its extraction, images of endangered species, and reports of forced labor, European manufacturers sought to restrict its use or at least focus on obtaining products produced under stable conditions. However, the controversy over palm oil has already waned during corona virus infections.

Sumatran orangutan evacuated from palm oil plantation

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Palm oil can be bad, but it can be even worse if we do not use it all of a sudden

A few years ago, there was a huge scandal surrounding palm oil: reports of deforestation, pictures of endangered animals and reports of forced labor. A worldwide boycott struggle against the raw material has also begun. However, the picture is far from black and white: it is not certain that manufacturers or consumers will benefit from banning the use of raw material under one roof.

They are also looking for alternatives at home

The deteriorating situation is also being felt by the local manufacturers involved. Replacing sunflower oil is on the agenda, Gábor Intődy, general secretary of the Hungarian Confectionery Association, told hvg.hu. According to Attila Vörös, managing director of the Association of Responsible Food Producers Association (FÉSZ), several member organizations of the association pointed out.

Their stocks are limited and the moment may come when they cannot get sunflower oil through regular channels and are already looking for alternative distribution sources.

According to the CEO, the most obvious alternative is rapeseed oil, which works very similarly in the industrial environment and can be used to easily replace sunflower oil in cooking tips. Here, however, a sudden rise in demand can be expected to drive up prices, and he writes that it is questionable whether rapeseed will be enough to replace all sunflower oil.

Rapsheet land

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Switching to palm oil is no longer self-evident because you need to go into more serious cooking tips. However, in the long run, there seems to be no other option. Rapeseed may be a solution in the short term due to the currently available sizes, but will be available in sufficient quantities in medium and long term palm.

And this year the sunflower should be planted in Ukraine, which, according to Attila Voros, is neither, nor unimportant. That is, even if the war ends soon, we are not sure we will have the usual amount for next season. Field crop production can not react so quickly, here it is only possible to plan ahead for the season, which is usually the time of year, he wrote.

Meanwhile, in the case of growing demand and palm oil, the price of alternative oils has also started rising due to lower-than-expected yields last year. “This equation needs to be resolved, while it remains to be seen whether the supply will be reset in the future,” Rega Ssolosi said.

The situation could be exacerbated by Indonesia’s announcement on Thursday that it will restrict palm oil exports from the country from Thursday. This could put even more pressure on the market, especially in South America where soybean oil is expected to be lower due to the drought, while international prices of rapeseed oil could be boosted by the poor Canadian rapeseed harvest. (Most of the soybean oil comes from the world, while most of the rapeseed oil comes from the world market.)

On January 18, 2017, Indonesian workers at a palm oil plantation in the village of Kuala, in the Gudalimbaru district of Tel Sertong, in North Sumatra, Indonesia.

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Recipe, packaging, technology

Rekha Ssolosi, a food policy analyst, told hvg.hu about what it means to change oils in a recipe. Different ingredients have different properties such as taste, texture, shelf life, fatty acid composition, processing. The new recipe should also be tested: to explore how the product works with the new ingredient, what needs to be changed in the production technology, how much the flavor will change, and how long it will last.

The food sector has also been affected by a number of factors, including rising energy, agricultural and fuel prices, all of which are pushing the market towards higher prices. In addition, companies have to deal not only with rising prices and shortages of raw materials, but also other difficulties and costs associated with replacing raw materials.

For example, it may be necessary to replace packaging materials. For cost-effective reasons, they are often manufactured more than a year in advance, and in many cases it is mandatory to label products to help inform consumers. However, replacing any lost material can not only incur significant additional costs in replacing labels or the entire packaging, but can also be a major waste of plastic if disposable packaging materials have to be discarded.

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The processes involved in the transition should be simplified

According to.

However, replacement involves not only replacing one ingredient with another and rewriting the text on the packaging, but also changing the recipe, as Gabor Indodi points out, involving many processes in the preparation of the product sheet. , Performance testing and stocking. To make the transition quicker and smoother, we need to make this process more flexible.

According to Attila Vörös, FÉSZ has been in contact with the Ministry of Agriculture and NÉBIH on this issue and they look forward to incorporating short-term solutions that are acceptable to all involved. At home, this can take weeks or months, but in the medium and long term, he wrote, an EU-level solution needs to be developed.

Peaceful Sumatran orangutan inspected before being transferred from oil palm plantation to reserve on September 25, 2021

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Is it okay to need more palm oil?

According to Réka Szöllősi, the effects of the war will gradually spread to the food industry, which will be very exciting in the next 1-2 months, but not primarily because our regular mayonnaise will be more expensive – this risk is unfortunately present in almost all foods – or it may taste different. The food security effects of war will be felt in poorer countries where food shortages threaten.

Asked if the withdrawal of palm oil would increase the environmental barrier to the food industry, the expert warned.

The effects of the war far outweighed the potential for sustainable production of vegetable oil.

The issue needs to be explored in a different, broader context than what became a “case” in Palmyra a decade ago, he said. Problems with palm oil at the time actually drew attention to the dangers of monoculture, intensive production, in general. Therefore, it is no longer a question of whether the sunflower grown in the palm groves of Ukrainian chernozem, grown in tree-lined plains or in rainforests, is more stable, but monoculture production is contrary to regenerative agricultural practices. Oil looks like mummies just like any other oil, ”he said.

There is now a scientific consensus on the importance of using sustainable production methods as widely as possible, and it has been recognized that global food supply and consumption must be changed to achieve the Paris climate goals and provide food by 2050. In a sustainable way to humanity.

The war and its aftermath show what happened already during the Govt epidemics, how much everything has to be dealt with abruptly if there is a supply disruption somewhere, and change cannot wait for a war or a climate change crisis. These should be thoroughly prepared to increase the resilience and resilience of the diet. The food system includes not only the manufacturer, processor, their suppliers and trade, but also the authorities and consumers: for our entire food supply to function and be sustainable, each must change their practices and habits.

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