Europe Needs Sunflower Oil Just as Much as Turkey Does

Turkish consumers fight and stampede in local supermarkets to buy sunflower for oil due to sudden shortages. This might seem ridiculous: Turkey is a candidate for EU membership, and in some respects it fits the bill perfectly. However, it is also true that the social fabric and disposition in the country is largely Middle Eastern in character. 

The issue of the social and economic reaction to the sunflower oil shortage resulting from Russia’s intervention of the situation in Ukraine is not unique to Turkey. It is true, though, that the disruption of sunflower oil supplies from Ukraine (which along with Russia is the world’s main exporter of sunflower oil) is more clearly visible in Turkey, where sunflower oil is used for cooking by the vast majority of households. This results in people virtually fighting for bottles of sunflower oil in stores.

It would seem that this issue should not concern Europeans: bottles of sunflower oil are a relatively rare sighting on the shelves of EU supermarkets. This product is more familiar to Eastern Europeans, and in general European households tend to use olive and rapeseed oil.

Picture: Prices for vegetable oils are rising sharply; S&B Global

But as it turns out, Europeans need this suddenly scarce product just as much as Turks do. The reason? – In industrial food production, the picture is completely different. It is sunflower oil that is widely used in spreads, margarines and mayonnaise, ready meals and preserves, baking and confectionery. Its popularity with manufacturers is only natural: it is much cheaper than olive oil, but it has excellent composition, tastes good and is convenient in production due to its physical and chemical properties.

Picture: The largest producers of sunflower oil; S&B Global

Other industries also depend on sunflower oil. It is used in a large number of cosmetic products, especially emollients; it is also used in soap production.

Chemical applications for sunflower oil include biofuels (biodiesel), lubricants, paints, varnishes, and even vegetable oil-based inks.

Furthermore, sunflower oil is an important source for the production of tocopherols, better known as vitamin E, the main antioxidant in the human body, which is a vital substance for the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries.

As a result, sunflower oil is extremely important for European consumers as well, something they often fail to acknowledge. And when they do, their reaction can be just as emotional as that of the Turkish population. Think about feisty Italians – since Italy is one of the leading European importers of sunflower seed products.

Ru-Main, 17.03.2022 



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