Ukraine war sparks Europe rush to buy survival gear and food

BERLIN/STOCKHOLM, March 16 (Reuters) – Europeans are stocking up on survival gear like sleeping bags and camping stoves, as well as tinned and dried food, in part to donate to refugees arriving from Ukraine and also for fear of a supply disruption. and the spread of conflict.

Sales of products such as plastic cans, camping gear, batteries, flashlights and solar-powered mobile phone chargers have increased sixfold in the past two weeks at Swedish hardware chain Clas Ohlsson ( CLASb.ST), a spokesperson said.

“Clearly people want to be crisis prepared. The biggest increase is in products that are recommended to have at home during a crisis, for example radios,” he said.

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Sales of powdered milk, pasta, cereals and canned foods have increased by up to 20% in the past four weeks, according to Swedish grocer Ica Gruppen.

Consumers are sourcing themselves while aid organizations are also buying products to send to Ukraine, according to Ica Sweden’s purchasing manager, Andreas Sbrodigliga.

In the Netherlands, Jimmy Bakker of outdoor goods supplier Dumpstore Amsterdam has enjoyed a booming business since the start of the war.

“When the war broke out, people were buying emergency blankets, emergency food rations, radios and stoves. Last week people rented vehicles and they were going to Ukraine to distribute them there. -down,” he said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s comments that Moscow’s nuclear deterrent is on high alert had already prompted people in central Europe to rush to buy iodine which they say could protect them from radiation. Read more

In Poland, which has taken in more than half of the 3 million refugees fleeing Ukraine, convenience store chain Zabka has reported increased sales of canned goods, rice, oatmeal and bottled water in some areas. because of collections for refugees.

Hygiene products like wet wipes, gels, soaps, toothpaste and porridge are also flying off the shelves in Poland, according to the pharmacy chain Rossmann.

In Germany, where 175,000 Ukrainian refugees have been registered so far, sales of camping products like sleeping bags and mattresses have surged in the past two weeks at sports channel Decathlon, a spokesperson said. .

The company said it has also donated camping products to humanitarian organizations helping in Ukraine.

Temporary cap on oil and flour sales

German wholesaler Metro (B4B.DE) has temporarily set a cap on how much shoppers can buy of certain products, such as cooking oils and flour, but said it saw no reason for consumers to stock up, adding that fresh supplies are on the way.

“We are currently seeing strong demand from our commercial customers for various shelf stable foods, which can be attributed to, among other things, the purchase of relief supplies,” a spokesperson said.

Ukraine is a major global producer and exporter of grains and vegetable oils, but officials and farmers expect a drop in the 2022 harvest and exports due to the war.

German trade association BGA warned last week that the war in Ukraine could cause bottlenecks in the food trade and threaten supplies of toilet paper and paper towels, as well as chemical cleaning agents. Read more

Transport problems have been exacerbated by rising fuel prices and a shortage of Ukrainian truckers, he added.

However, most retailers have strengthened their supply chains since COVID-19 lockdowns triggered panic buying in 2020.

“We are living in difficult times, but at the moment there is no room for panic,” Dimitar Margaritov, chairman of the Bulgarian Consumer Protection Commission, told state radio.

Dutch retailer Ahold Delhaize (AD.AS) said it has seen increased sales at its stores in the Czech Republic due to people buying refugee donations, but there is no cause for concern.

“Our supply chain in Europe is quite robust at this point and we have enough product for our customers in stock and with our suppliers,” the company said.

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Additional reporting by Anthony Deutsch, Anna Pruchnicka, Siddharth Cavale, Richa Naidu, Matthias Inverardi, writing by Emma Thomasson, editing by Alexandra Hudson

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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