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The supply just can't meet the demand.

By Tim Nelson
February 01, 2021
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Canola: it's probably one of the more unsung oils (at least with olive oil hogging the spotlight), but the food world as we know it would probably cease to exist without it. This seed oil from a bright-yellow flavor is a key component of salad dressings, mayonnaise, and French fries.

So with that in mind, there are probably a lot of European fry shops and takeaway counters who are a bit stressed out these days about a supposed canola crisis happening in Canada, the world's foremost supplier of the eponymous flower that canola oil comes from. 

According to Reuters, recent circumstances have pushed canola oilseed to prices around C$700 per ton, some of the highest levels seen since 2008. The volatile market has pushed canola oilseed importers of the commodity to lock in their prices now, fearing that they'll only increase from here. 

As is often the case with surging commodity prices, there's a confluence of supply and demand abnormalities afoot. Problems started back in the fall, when Canada's canola farmers saw their smallest harvest of the flower (which is crushed to make the cooking oil) in five years. Around the same time, export demand skyrocketed. That was spurred largely by ordering from China, where the bulk of what's sold is used as hog feed. Overall, those exports were up nearly 33 percent. 

Though analysts predict that Canada's canola farmers will plant six percent more than they otherwise would this spring, the next harvest doesn't begin for another six months. So unless Chinese pigs lose their appetite or the world ditches both salad and fries (an impossible conundrum), it looks like the days of costly canola could be here to stay for at least a little while. So if you happen to need some for a little home frying, it might be wise to buy in bulk.