Bulgaria has plenty of sunflower oil but tensions simmer as prices soar

The sunflower oil saga in Bulgaria continues after prices have soared in recent days, with a special price offer from a chain on Saturday causing queues and tension and the government’s repeated assurances that supplies are plentiful.

The government has claimed producers are speculating, an accusation they deny, citing sharp increases in oil sunflower, electricity and gas prices that have pushed up production costs.

Public concerns about sunflower oil supplies have been heightened by Russia’s war in Ukraine. Producers predicted that prices would return to normal by the end of the war.

Bulgarian National Radio (BNR) reported on March 12 that in many places in the country there were long queues in front of the branches of a retail chain that was selling sunflower oil at a promotional price.

The report says that in Shumen, a price of 2.99 leva per liter of sunflower oil meant people had to wait in line for hours even before shops opened. This price is about half of what is being asked in stores in several locations in Bulgaria this week.

A dispute broke out between customers in Haskovo, prompting police intervention, the report said.

Stocks of sunflower oil priced at 2.99 leva soon ran out, to be replaced by bottles priced at four leva.

BNR reported that a Haskovo resident said the store imposed a limit of four bottles per customer after people bought entire batches.

Media from Plovdiv reported that queues several hundred meters long had formed in front of the branches of the chain of stores in the city.

The Economy Ministry announced on March 12 that Minister Kornelia Ninova had met with sunflower oil producers.

“The general consensus is that a sufficient amount of oil is being produced. There are stocks of sunflower seeds,” said Ninova, who said earlier this week Bulgaria has stocks of oil-bearing sunflowers sufficient for more than four years.

She said the panic was artificially created.

“There is no shortage in the market. There is oil that is flooding the whole country,” Ninova said.

(Photo: teteria sonnna, via Wikimedia Commons)

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