Cooking Oil Prices Rise, Leading to Shortages and Theft: WSJ

  • The price of vegetable oil has skyrocketed, creating headaches for restaurants that depend on it for frying.
  • Used oil is also valuable, and thieves steal it from restaurant trash cans.
  • Restaurants are also facing shortages and rising labor and ingredient costs.

Vegetable oil prices are skyrocketing, leading restaurants to raise food prices and thieves to resell stolen oil.

The value of cooking oil has risen sharply this year, forcing restaurants that depend on it to fry foods like French fries and chicken wings, Jesse Newman and Heather Haddon of The Wall Street Journal reported. Some restaurants stock up, stack crates of oil in their basements, or stretch their existing oil, filtering it more often so it can be reused.

But used oil has a value in itself: used cooking oil is collected and recycled to make diesel fuel. The price of used oil has risen 80% over the past year, to 66 cents a pound, according to the Journal, which cited data from pricing agency Fastmarkets The Jacobsen.

The sale of used oil has become so lucrative that there has been an increase in the number of thieves breaking into dumpsters, stealing cooking oil and reselling it, according to the Journal.

Sumit Majumdar, president of Buffalo Biodiesel in western New York, told the Journal that for the past 3.5 years, thieves have stolen $ 30,000 of used oil from a single restaurant. with which he works.

The company posts about the oil thefts on Twitter, and as of Friday afternoon it had posted about seven separate thefts at New York restaurants in the past 24 hours alone.

“These guys are making $ 1,500 a day,” Majumdar told The Journal. “It’s more lucrative than crack.”

High oil prices, along with the theft of used oil, are just two of the many problems currently plaguing restaurants. Prices for chicken wings have skyrocketed this year and stocks have been tight due to a combination of pandemic-induced demand and the Texas storms in February, which wiped out hatcheries across the state.

Based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, The prices of meat, poultry, fish and eggs have all jumped year over year, leading fast food outlets and fast food outlets to raise their prices to keep up with the rise. ingredient costs, as well as increased labor costs.

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Felix J. Dixon