World News

Indonesians pay price of cooking oil crisis

Millions of consumers and small business owners in the world’s fourth most populous nation have been rattled for months by skyrocketing cooking oil prices. As the war between Russia and Ukraine two major grain and sunflower seed producers — sent jitters through global markets, many producers rushed to shift their goods abroad to cash in on soaring rates.

Two people died in March from exhaustion — including one who had queued at three different supermarkets, according to local media — as they waited in searing heat to get their hands on a product that rose to 20,100 rupiah a litre at its height.

Indonesia produces about 60 percent of global palm oil supplies, with one-third consumed domestically. India, China, the European Union and Pakistan are among its major export customers.

The squeeze on cooking oil at home forced the Indonesian government to impose a now-lifted ban on exports last month, easing prices and shoring up domestic supplies.

But at the end of May, the price of bulk cooking oil, the most affordable in the country, still hovered at about 18,300 rupiah per litre on average, above the government’s target of 14,000 rupiah, according to official data.

The government is now moving to secure even more supplies at home, meaning there is unlikely to be a repeat of the spike seen after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, he said.

But while prices may come down in Indonesia’s towns and cities, they will stay high for those living in rural and remote areas like Setiana.

“For lower-income people, the impact is significant because, at the same time, there are increases in the prices [of other commodities],” Faisal told AFP.

With local prices unlikely to fall, and with little money coming in since her husband was laid off, Setiana now has other worries — like no longer being able to afford school fees for her children.

“If prices of staple goods go up, we have little left for other expenses.” The price spike has left many with difficult decisions to make.

Source: eNCA

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