Some supermarkets are alreayd seeing oil shortages as people stock up before prices jump up. Photo via El Diario

The sound of oil popping in a pan on top of the stove is like a beautiful serenade to my empty stomach. I will relish in that noise this week before oil falls victim to prices gone wild.

The government eliminated subsidies on oil in supermarkets, which will lead to a sharp rise in the price of oil. In the coming week, prices are likely to triple and will continue to rise 30 percent, according to Cronista, but just when it will reach that mark is a point of high contention between businesses and the government in what’s being called the “oil war.”

Oil price increases have been capped at 30 percent and while markets have largely accepted this mark, they don’t accept the proposed timeline. The government would like markets to increase the prices over the course of the year but businesses plan to hike up prices to the cap by the end of August. This is surely going to fry my bank account because I can’t get rid of weekly milanesas.

The news of the “potential rise in prices” was released while discussion was still underway between government officials, employers and unions, regarding a solution.

Consumers are desperate to stock up on oil before prices are hiked up, which has led markets to take certain actions to keep oil on their shelves. Photo via Minuto1
Consumers are desperate to stock up on oil before prices are hiked up, which has led markets to take certain actions to keep oil on their shelves. Photo via Minuto1

President Mauricio Macri’s administration will now be dealing with a conflict all too reminiscent of the gas debacle. The administration has said it would like to avoid price increases greater than 10 percent before December. That would surely take the sting out or perhaps it would just prolong our pain and make saying goodbye to our favorite fried foods that much harder.

While a 30 percent increase in prices will surely make a dent in our wallets, unions think that the increase could reach as high as 100 percent. This horrible combination of inflation and price hikes has led some unions to bring collective bargaining back to the table: a negotiation between unions, employers, and the government to find a way for worker’s salaries and purchasing power to match inflation.

Of course, there are arguments in defense of the rise. Companies are claiming that only 20 percent of oils will be affected, including soy, sunflower and combinations less than 5 liters. There are also claims that the increase will be absorbed by the consumer without major problems.

But since news of the rise in oil prices broke, supermarkets’ oil stock has dwindled drastically. People have been stocking up on oil before it earns its place next to gas and electricity on the list of our wallet’s least favorite things. Crowds have stormed markets clearing out their shelves, by the box load because if there’s any bright side, it’s that oil has a long shelf life.

Markets haven’t been able to keep up with the oil’s overnight spike in demand and replacing stock has become a true challenge. In some markets, there is a limit of two to three bottles per person.

So go, flock now, before you have no choice but to bake your meat and boil your vegetables.

“En Coto they say that there isn’t enough oil for everyone. In Carrefour there’s already a shortage.”