Invasion of Ukraine partly responsible for closing Austin’s ice cream shop

AUSTIN (KXAN) – The cascading economic effects of the Russian invasion of Ukraine are partly to blame for the closure of a local vegan ice cream shop, the the owner told customers on social media.

Amelia Raley said she made the decision to close Sweet Ritual in North Austin after more than 10 years in business for a number of reasons, including that she recently struggled to get two key ingredients. from Ukraine.

“Due to a combination of ingredient shortages (two of our ingredients are processed or grown in Ukraine), rising food costs, rising cost of living in Austin, and the personal health, I have made the decision to close,” Raley wrote. in a statement posted online.

The ingredients in question are sunflower and safflower oil, she told KXAN. According to Economic Complexity Observatorywhich compiles international trade data, Russia and Ukraine held the top two spots as the world’s leading exporters of these types of refined seed oils in 2020. Russia exported 14.8% of the supply worldwide for a total of $178 million, while Ukraine had 14% which generated $142. million.

The ongoing attacks on Ukraine as well as the blocking of its ports – in addition to the severe sanctions imposed on Russia – are seriously depleting the availability of sunflower and safflower oil around the world.

Raley said she has relied on these products to create various non-dairy ice cream flavors that her customers have enjoyed since 2011. She said she does not expect the Russian conflict in Ukraine to affect her ability to make business in addition to other challenges. economic circumstances.

“We use an ingredient that is processed and grown in Ukraine. The Ukrainian symbol is the sunflower, so we use a lot of sunflower products and also something called safflower in our products. They are grown or produced there,” Raley explained. “So imagine my surprise when I call my distributor in January and ask them to get my next shipment and they say, ‘We don’t know when that will happen.'”

Additionally, Raley called the COVID-19 pandemic “death by a thousand cuts” for her business because she said it created less foot traffic, attracted fewer tourists, made it more difficult to obtain ingredients as well as paper products and caused long delays. to repair the equipment.

“The writing has been on the wall for a little while, unfortunately,” Raley said. “I was going to try to do this summer season, but personal health issues prevent me from being more open.”

She said she hopes what happened to her decade-old business will serve as a wake-up call for Austinians who don’t want to see their favorite local businesses shut down.

“It’s important, now more than ever, to get out there and support your really local, really small neighborhood businesses,” Raley said. “I know it’s difficult. I know I myself haven’t been able to hang out with people as much as possible, but I put it on my calendar and say once a week I want to go spend $20 on this little business because I love. I want to support them and I want to appreciate them while they’re still here.

Clearance sale information

She will be holding a clearance sale this Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to sell remaining pints of ice cream, artwork, furniture, tools, office supplies and more.

Sales will last from 3 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on June 8, 9 and 10. They will be held at the Sweet Ritual Ice Cream Production Kitchen at 8711 Burnet Road, Suite H 100-101, which is off Burnet Road near the United States. 183.

More detailed information about the sale can be found on the Sweet Ritual website.

Laura J. Boyer