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Global Cooking Oil Shortages and How to Make That Precious Commodity Last Longer

First the pandemic and now a war. World events have created an unsuspecting victim: commercial kitchens that rely on cooking oil. But the good news is that there’s a way to extend the life of your precious cooking oil while also reducing its overall consumption.

Saga of the Shortage

In May of 2021, this time last year, Filta shared data showing that the price of cooking oil had more than doubled since the outbreak of COVID-19 worldwide – soybean oil alone rising from $.25 per pound in May 2020 to $.55 in March 2021. When war broke out between Russia and Ukraine in February 2022, the economies of cooking oil became even more dire.

According to the Associated Press (AP) last month, Ukraine supplies nearly half the world’s sunflower oil and Russia provides another 25%. When the conflict began, not only were Ukrainian cities, homes, schools, and hospitals devastated, so was agriculture in the region known as Europe’s breadbasket. Fields of sunflowers now lie unharvested and unable to export this important national commodity for Ukraine.

Again, more oil shortage data from that April 26 AP report:

“Vegetable oil prices hit a record high in February, then increased another 23% in March, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. Soybean oil, which sold for $765 per metric ton in 2019, was averaging $1,957 per metric ton in March, the World Bank said. Palm oil prices were up 200% and are set to go even higher…”

A New York Times article quipped recently that cooking oil is the new toilet paper, noting how consumer stockpiling and panic buying is only adding to the shortage and rising prices of the commodity.

Micro-filtration to Stretch Oil

If there’s any good news in this saga, it’s that there’s a readily available process for large commercial kitchens to offset and combat this situation. Micro-filtering.

Cooking oil by its very nature must be replaced frequently because bits of food naturally slough off on the frying process and can gum up fryers, affect taste, and be generally unhealthy. Imagine if you could stretch the life of the oil in those huge 25-pound or 50-pound fryers, sometimes more than doubling its life. Not only would the cost savings be significant, but restaurants could keep the food customers love on their menus.

Dialysis for Cooking Oil

As Filta’s CEO, Tom Dunn, is fond of saying, “think of it as dialysis for cooking oil.” Rather than dumping used cooking oil, our professional technicians use a proprietary micro-filtration method to remove the finest elements from the oil, then replace the same cooking oil that’s still usable.

The micro-filtration process offers not only a potential reduction in kitchen costs but savings in terms of safety – a significant concern when you pair hot oil with kitchens, and overworked employees.

The FiltaFry eco-friendly, mobile, on-site service already works in thousands of commercial kitchens by micro-filtering cooking oil, deep cleaning fryers by vacuuming, and replacing with the filtered and usable cooking oil. When that oil has reached the end of its useful life, Filta technicians remove it safely and recycle it for biodiesel fuel, offering yet another benefit -helping the environment.

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