Ukraine supply issues drive up demand for Northumberland rape seed oil

Cooking oil supply issues caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine have led to an increase in demand for a Northumberland business.

Karen Park produces Seabanks rape seed oil at the family’s Buston Farm, near Warkworth.

She started the business two years ago and has over 60 local suppliers as well as local chefs, restaurants and catering companies using her product.

Now, with Russia and Ukraine supplying over 80 per cent of the world’s sunflower seed and supply now ceased due to the ongoing conflict, companies are seeking alternative products as a replacement cooking oil.

Karen Park, left, with Rachel Sweeney of GB News.

Karen said: “We started Seabanks as an artisan company and our sales have increased rapidly due to demand for an alternative cooking oil product.

“We are receiving new enquiries every week and the feedback is extremely positive.

"We grow our own oil seed rape on the family farm and have complete quality control literally from plough to plate.

“Due to increased global demand, the price of oil seed rape has risen from £330 in 2021 to over £800 per-tonne this year.

"We’ve also had massive increases in growing costs with fuel, energy and fertiliser costs resulting in price increases affecting farm margins.”

Karen was recently interviewed on the subject for a feature on GB News with its North East correspondent Rachel Sweeney and Bernicia Media’s Bruce Jobson.

“It was a surreal experience doing a ‘live’ TV interview with Rachel and Bruce in the middle of one of our fields surrounded by sea of yellow,” she admitted.

Bruce added: “The Ukrainian conflict is going to cause sunflower oil supply issues for at least another 18 months or more.

"UK farmers will be planting more oil seed rape this autumn – with some farmers already planting a spring sown-crop.

"Ukraine is also the fourth largest potato producer and supply on the global markets will also be affected.

Northumberland has a deep-farming heritage producing the finest quality produce.

"Karen deserves widespread recognition for her developing business having produced an artisan product now used by local restaurants such as The Fish Shack and The Old Boat House in Amble.”