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Mustard, vinaigrette, oils… not a week goes by without a new risk of shortage being announced. The figures for large retailers confirm what customers of large stores have seen with their own eyes: the stock-out rate, i.e. the proportion of missing products in large stores reached 5.7% in August, according to a study by NielsenIQ taken over by BFM TV this Monday, September 12, i.e. 1.6 points more than in the same period of 2021.

If we should talk more about stockouts than shortages strictly speaking, the average duration of stockouts reached four days, indicates NielsenIQ, with the key, a shortfall for the sector which amounts to 2.7 billion euros since the beginning of the year. In terms of products that have a higher than average shortage rate, the ranking is dominated by mustard with a rate of 21.2% since the start of the war in Ukraine. This is followed by vinaigrettes which contain mustard (-14%) but also cooking fats (-11.1%) on which the French have fallen back for lack of oil, sandwiches (-10.5%) or even flat waters (-9.2%).

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Some shortages are maintained by consumers themselves

NielsenIQ also points out that some shortages have been maintained by consumers who have tended to overstock for fear of running out. This is the case for oils, particularly sunflower, which suffered supply difficulties with the Ukrainian conflict, but whose high purchase frequency has delayed its return. Sales of oils increased by 13% between March and August while the product was regularly missing from the shelves.

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In this regard, frozen poultry has been the most over-consumed product since the start of the year, with a 15% increase in August over one year. The buying frenzy was fueled by a fear of rising prices which materialized in the “irrational” behavior of consumers, a real vicious circle.

Despite this, shortages tend to resolve over time. The mustard availability rate rose to 73% in August (after a low of 56.8% in June) and oils have been holding at over 90% for several weeks now. Nevertheless, new products are causing concern. This is the case for potatoes, honey, milk and corn, the harvests of which seem to have suffered from the summer drought and should see their prices rise sharply by the end of the year.

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