Supermarkets "exceptionally" allowed to limit hoarding

Spanish government introduces measure in emergency plan to deal with the economic impact of the war, which will last until June 30

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A shopper at a large supermarket chain in Sagunto.

MADRIDThe emergency plan to deal with the economic consequences derived from the energy crisis and the war in Ukraine hides more than one hitherto unknown legislative change. The regulation, which has been published by the Official State Gazette (BOE) this Wednesday, includes that supermarkets may limit the amount of products buyers can purchase. Specifically, it amends the Retail Trade Ordinance and establishes that "in the event of extraordinary circumstances", commercial establishments may "temporarily suspend the ban on limiting the quantity of items that can be purchased", according to the BOE.

The Spanish government introduces this measure after two weeks in which the hauliers' strike, but also the war in Ukraine, called the "breadbasket of Europe", have had had a strong impact on supermarkets across the State. In fact, large chains have begun to limit sales of sunflower oil, a product made from seeds which mostly come from Ukraine.

The regulations governing retail trade state that traders "may not limit the quantity of items that can be purchased by a buyer or set higher prices or remove reductions or incentives for purchases not exceeding a certain volume" and only provide for "temporary" exceptions to limiting measures in the event that the supermarket does not have sufficient stock of a particular product. Now, however, the Spanish government will allow supermarkets to control hoarding until June 30 – the emergency plan will last until this date, although the Spanish government has already opened the door to extend it if necessary.

Sunflower seeds are not the only product affected by the war; cereals and vegetable oil have also suffered. In fact, Ukraine is the main supplier of vegetable oil to Catalonia and Spain: 70% of the product that arrives is Ukrainian. This has had a direct impact on the companies that work with this product, to the point that they are considering closing.