Hoarding purchases in war times Bonn supermarkets limit sales of cooking oil

Bonn · Since the outbreak of the Ukraine war many consumers seem to be hoarding lots of non-perishable food again. Flour and oil are especially in demand. Traders and associations appeal to buy only in usual quantities.

 Emptiness reigns at the bottom of the shelf: cheap flour and inexpensive oils are currently running out fastest.

Emptiness reigns at the bottom of the shelf: cheap flour and inexpensive oils are currently running out fastest.

Foto: Benjamin Westhoff

Déjà-vu in the supermarket: rapeseed and sunflower oil are completely sold out. Where once there was a pallet of flour, there is a big gap. Yeast, rice, pasta and - once again - toilet paper are also missing. At least with the cheap private labels of the retail chains. "Why are they hoarding again?" an Aldi employee in Lengsdorf shakes her head uncomprehendingly. Since the outbreak of the Ukraine war, many consumers are apparently hoarding lots of non-perishable food again.

It's a similar picture at Edeka Vogl on Basketsring. "I don't know what's going on again," says Benjamin Vogl. No sooner are the goods in the market than they are sold out again. "We've had ten times the sales of cooking oil in the last few days," he says. The demand is so enormous that they are now limiting sales. "Nevertheless, the shelves are mostly empty," adds Vogl. However, this is not due to interrupted supply chains. "We get enough goods. The deliveries are not the problem. The buying behaviour is the problem.“

Demand like in summer months

The situation in Bonn's city centre is no different. In Kaufhof there is a large selection of high-quality as well as flavoured oils, but the simpler products for frying and braising are out of stock. The high demand of the last few days has also left its mark at Rewe on Friedensplatz. Plain wheat flour? Gone. "Why should we limit the per head sales when we have nothing at all?" says an employee. "We get exactly the same amount of goods as before. And yet some shelves are completely empty."

And another product is apparently being hoarded at the moment: CO2 cylinders for water sprinklers. "We've only seen such a high demand as at the moment in the hot summer months," says a saleswoman in Röttgen. She had only just filled the display with the cartridges and the display was already plundered.

Retailers' association appeals for solidarity

Aldi has already reacted to the high demand for certain products. When asked by the GA, the company did not give any concrete figures for Bonn. But: "At the moment we see a stronger demand for some product groups and so it can be that individual articles are out of stock for a short time. We ask our customers to buy goods only in household quantities. In the event of greater demand, we reserve the right, as always, to temporarily restrict the quantity of goods available," the company says.

The Federal Association of the German Food Trade (BVLH) also appeals to everyone's solidarity. If demand increases disproportionately, the entire delivery logistics get out of step. "Customers should show solidarity and only buy products in household quantities," says association spokesman Christian Böttcher.

Annegret Fröhlmann from Duisdorf is aware that in future she will have to pay more for the weekly shopping of her family of four. "The enormous increase in fuel prices will be reflected in every single product," she is convinced. "I expect to spend around 20 euros more on food per week.“

Lack of fertiliser for farmers in the region

"In the short term, no supply shortages of grain are to be expected," reassures Dr Bernd Lüttgens, deputy general manager of the Rhineland Agricultural Association, based in Duisdorf. At the moment there is enough flour available. However, the grain markets are internationally oriented and may depend on imported goods for certain qualities. But: "Internationally disrupted supply chains and the tense supply situation in many other countries have caused prices to rise significantly in recent weeks," the expert said.

This would also be felt by consumers in the region. Currently, the stored grain of the 2021 harvest is being processed. "How the situation will develop in 2022 depends on many factors," Lüttgens adds. Farmers in the region are currently suffering from high prices for fertiliser and fuel, not least due to the Ukraine crisis. This will not only make production more expensive, but a lack of fertiliser could lead to lower yields.

Ukraine and Russia lead the way in sunflower oil

The situation is different for edible oil. Ukraine and Russia are the most important export countries for sunflower oil worldwide. The Association of the Oilseed Processing Industry therefore expects the flow of sunflower, linseed and soya from the conflict region to be disrupted in the coming weeks and months.

And how will the situation affect Easter? Will there be no freshly baked Easter plait on the table of many Bonners this year? "Of course there will be baking for the feast," Benjamin Vogl is certain. "Many people have a large stock of flour at home. At any rate, many don't lack ingredients."

(Original text: Gabriele Immenkeppel ; Translation: Mareike Graepel)

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