Here’s why your restaurant can expect to be paying the high cost of cooking oil for a while longer. The current high cost of cooking oil reflects a perfect storm of conditions which have led to high prices. We’ll examine a few of the culprits and suggest ways for restaurant owners to mitigate the impact of these prices.
Droughts, brought on by climate change have reduced the yields of crops used to manufacture cooking oil. A drought in Canada negatively impacted the high cost of cooking oil due to lower production of rapeseed in 2020/2021. Dry weather in South America has driven the high cost of cooking oil up by constraining the production of soybeans.
The pandemic temporarily reduced the demand for cooking oil but exacerbated supply issues through the disruption of supply chains and strained labor markets. Malaysia produces 25% of the world’s supply of palm oil but production has been constrained by pandemic induced labor shortages.
Indonesia produces nearly 60% of the world’s supply of palm oil. In the face of potential shortages, the Indonesian President banned exports of palm oil to insure Indonesians had sufficient supplies, driving up further the high cost of cooking oil. According to the WWF, palm oil is so widely used that it is in 50% of all packaged foods sold in supermarkets along with deodorant, shampoo, toothpaste and lipstick. The world has made very little progress in moving to sustainably raised palm oil. Current practices result in massive deforestation contributing further to climate change.
Invasion of Ukraine
Ukraine produces half of the world’s supply of sunflower oil and Russia one quarter of the worlds’ supply. The Russian attack on Ukraine has severely disrupted the supply of sunflower oil from those nations. The British Isles use a tremendous amount of sunflower oil and recent reports predict that thousands of fish and chips shops may close down.
The most widely used cooking oils are palm, soybean, rapeseed and sunflower.
The skyrocketing demand for clean energy from biofuels, some made from oil crops, has contributed to the high cost of cooking oil. Some say that there must be a balance between crops for food and crops used for biofuels.
Growing demand for food
As nations like China become wealthier their population demands more and better food which translates into more demand for cooking oil. A constrained supply coupled with higher demand
Is a perfect combination for higher prices and shortages. Supermarkets in the UK, Spain and Italy have already placed purchase limits on cooking oil due to shortages. There haven been protests in Indonesia over the availability and price of cooking oil. Demand for rapeseed has skyrocketed as Chinese traders scour the world to meet the demand for food from a large and growing population demanding better and more modern foods.
So, what can a restaurant do about the high cost of cooking oil?
The most important and impactful step is to make your cooking oil last longer. This does not mean to continue cooking with oil past its useful life. That would result in poor tasting food and damage to your restaurant’s reputation. Filtering your oil is the number one step you can take to extend the life of your oil and reduce the overall total cost. You can also take simple steps like not seasoning over your fryer baskets, resting your oil and polishing your oil. You may be able to cut the cost of cooking oil by 50% employing all of these methods.
This perfect storm of conditions will not recede quickly even if the war in Ukraine abates. But restaurant owners can take steps to reduce the overall cost of cooking oil and may be able to reduce it by 50%.Tags: high cost of cooking oil