Global Food Crisis: Potato Chips and Candy at Risk Over Export Freeze

Watched by Tayto Chairman Stephen Hutchinson (R), Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (L) catches crisps in a bowl during a general election campaign visit to the Tayto Castle crisp factory in County Armagh, Northern Ireland, on November 7, 2019. - Britain's two main parties promised billions of pounds of investment …

Supplies of potato chips and various confectionaries are now under threat as a result of disrupted export of key ingredients caused by sanctions and the Ukraine War.

Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine has led to significant disruptions in global supply chains, with the West losing access either partially or fully to some essential goods and resources from the two nations.

As a result, the supply of confectionaries such as potato chips, chocolate, pretzel sticks and a variety of other goods looks set to encounter significant difficulties, with industry experts warning that the conflict looks set to have serious impacts on their businesses.

“It’s potentially a big disruption for a company like ours,” said Geraint Hughes of Jones Welsh Snacks in an interview with the BBC.

Hughes explained to the public broadcaster that their potato chip business relies heavily on sunflower oil, the supply of which has been curtailed thanks to a variety of wartime issues, including newly implemented sanctions from Russia. Russia and Ukraine dominate the sunflower oil industry, creating some 80 per cent of the world crop, and with the two nations at war supplies are dwindling to zero.

Sunflower oil is running out in the UK too, with the distributor responsible for around 75 per cent of the nation’s supply saying that they simply cannot get the oil.

“Sunflower oil is a key ingredient and we are all looking at the scenario of not having it and how we will navigate the next few months,” Hughes said. Other oils can be used for cooking and as The Times reports companies are looking at changing processes and recipes to use them, but as Hughes noted, “it’s difficult to beat the performance” of sunflower oil for industrial food production.

What’s more, changing to another oil would reportedly not only likely result in a lesser crisp, but require the company to change all its packaging, resulting in “huge financial pressures” for the business.

Potato chips are far from the only food likely to be affected by supply shortages however, with Germany’s Federal Association of the German Confectionery Industry (BDSI) warning that supply problems will likely have a wide-reaching impact on the availability of other confectionaries, such as chocolate, biscuits and pretzel snacks.

Difficulties surrounding the rising price of food as a result of inflation and supply chain disruption have already been hitting the German consumer, with supermarkets hiking prices by up to 30 per cent as a result, but these issues look like they may soon get even worse regarding the production of snack foods.

“Even with the corona pandemic, energy, agricultural raw materials, packaging, but also transport have become massively expensive,” the organisation told Der Spiegel, but noted that with the Ukraine Crisis, the issue was now “life-threatening”.

While the increased costs of raw ingredients– such as wheat — are said to have had a significant negative effect on the industry, the BDSI expressed particular concern regarding shortages in the supply of natural gas, with Vladimir Putin’s Russia threatening on and off to cut off European nations from Russian sources.

An interruption in the supply of gas to manufacturers — used to heat industrial ovens and cookers — according to the Der Spiegel report, would result in the industry coming to a complete standstill.

“The companies in the German confectionery industry produce food and are therefore of outstanding importance for supplying the population in Germany, especially in emergency and bottleneck situations,” BDSI Chairman Bastian Fassin is reported as saying.

“Together with politicians and the food trade, we must ensure that supermarket shelves do not remain empty,” he is also reported as saying. “Politicians must now examine all measures that help food manufacturers to continue producing.”

These supply crises are already being felt in Europe. As reported by Breitbart, several German supermarkets enacted massive price hikes overnight this week to reflect shortages, with some products rising in price by 50 per cent in one day. Foodstuffs impacted include, according to a German media report: “cooking oil, butter and margarine… also chocolate, crisps, preserves, sausage, spreads and cheese”.

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