Sugar rush in Poland

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Large supermarkets limiting the amount of sugar to “retail-sized” purchases, as suppliers catch up with bulk buying spree.

Discount stores in Poland such as Netto and Lidl are limiting the number of bags of sugar customers are allowed to buy in stores to keep supplies going. However analysts assure there are no grounds for anxiety that there will not be enough sugar, but global prices are rising.

“Aldi, Biedronka, Lidl, Netto and Stokrotka. One customer was limited to 5 kg of sugar. In the other three, the limit is 10 kg,” writes the south-west Polish website wrocław.pl.

Poles are world champion conserve makers. A survey by Kantar in 2021 found some 51 percent of the households spend their summer evenings preparing delicacies to last into the winter.

In fact the phrase used in media circles for the quirky news that the summer lull in world events brings is “cucumber season.” This is the signal for all kinds of stories such as boa constrictor sightings in urban rivers- the hit in 2018. Another perennial favourite is photos of holiday makers reserving their patch of Baltic coastline, using wind breakers to provide dismal privacy.

But conserving also makes the headlines. In the southern town of Stałowola the local site stalowemaisto.pl screams that cucumbers are PLN 8 a kilo (EUR 1.70), up PLN 3 since the beginning of June.

Now it is the turn of fruit jarring and jam making. And as is apricot and blackberry season the supermarkets have aisles overflowing with jars, gelling agents and of course sugar. And it is sugar that is leading the news.

The reasons proffered for the increase in sugar are varied. Could it be Ukrainians buying up sugar to send back home, as some observers suggest?

Or is it the fault of German suppliers, as State Assets Minister Sasin was quoted by PAP?

“Two large German companies bought up 60% of the Polish sugar supply in the 1990s,” he said, recommending any retail buyers who couldn’t get supplies to “contact the National Food Group, which has 40% of the market and can deliver supplies at any time you want”.

Or is it old fashioned profiteering - small shopkeepers buying retail sugar in the discount stores for prices lower than they are currently being offered by wholesalers. “We notice by the VAT numbers of some of the bulk buyers, that these are commercial concerns,” said one supermarket group.

Poland is the third largest sugar supplier in the EU behind Germany and France and its production increased by 30% in the 2021-202 season, according to figures from Statistics Poland, while export has only increased by one or two percent.

“We are seeing the same effect with sugar as we saw at the beginning of the war in Ukraine at petrol stations when long queues formed, even though there was no shortage of petrol. And petrol didn’t run out,” economist Jakub Olpira from Credit Agricole told Business Insider.

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