Greece says it can boost sunflower oil production, if needed

A sunflower field at the Greek-Macedonian border near the village of Idomeni, Greece, August 10, 2016. REUTERS/Alexandros Avramidis

ATHENS, March 28 (Reuters) - Greece's agriculture ministry said on Monday that sunflower oil production could be increased if needed by producing more for household consumption rather than for biofuels as rising prices add to record inflation.

So far, Greece has no food product shortages, the ministry said in a statement following a ministerial meeting chaired by the prime minister. Greece imports sunflower oil from Ukraine. It estimates its imports of soft wheat from Ukraine and Russia at roughly 250,000 tonnes, about 30% of its total wheat imports.

"The agriculture minister noted that there is always a possibility of increasing domestic production, while improving the distribution between biofuel use and domestic use can further help increase the quantities available for consumption," the ministry said, without providing further details.

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The government has asked suppliers, such as supermarkets and other food retailers, to declare stockpiles of products including flour, grains, fertilisers, animal food, sunflower and other vegetable oils. read more Consumers hoarded over supply concerns in the wake of the war in Ukraine.

Greece's annual consumer inflation accelerated to 7.2% in February, its highest level in 25 years because of surging costs for energy, housing and transportation, official data showed.

Greece has asked the European Union to approve grants for soft wheat and corn crops for the 2023-2027 period as an incentive for Greek farmers.

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Reporting by Lefteris Papadimas and Angeliki Koutantou; editing by Grant McCool

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