France Feeling the Effects of a Butter Shortage
The Yule log and many of France’s other favorite Christmas goodies may be hard to come by this year as most French supermarkets are currently experiencing a shortage of butter. Part of the reason behind France’s sudden butter crisis can be traced to the increasing popularity of French butter and French pastries abroad. Further compounding the issue is the fact that Europe’s milk supply has suffered a dramatic drop this year after farmers cut back this year’s production following huge losses last year due to overproduction.
Of course, those in France struggling to find butter in supermarkets probably don’t care too much about what caused the butter shortage—only when they can expect it to end. Unfortunately, no one is quite sure when that might actually happen due to the huge demand for French pastries in China and the Middle East.
The unprecedented shortage in milk supply has hit the regions of Normandy and Brittany especially hard, but people all around the country are experiencing the effects. Between January and August of this year, the price of a pack of butter rose by more than 60% to an average of €6.70 per kilogram. Going further back, the price of butter has risen by more than 112% since last April.
This sharp price increase has been especially troublesome for the country’s bakers and pastry makers, many of which are having issues filling orders due to the high price and low supply. As a result, there are fears that many French Christmas delicacies like the traditional Yule log may also be in short supply this year.
Although officials first warned of the potential of a butter crisis during the summer, the effects of Europe’s milk supply shortage have only recently started to hit home. That being said, France is far from the only European Union country to be in the midst of a dairy shortage. In the UK, officials have also warned of a coming shortage of milk, cream and butter that is expected to hit just around Christmas. All across the EU, in countries such as Czech Republic, Germany and Denmark, the demand for butter is far outpacing production and butter stockpiles are nearly depleted.
The issue may only now be affecting Europeans, but it is one that has been coming for many years. One of the driving factors behind the current crisis is the Russian embargo on European goods that was put in place in 2014. Prior to this, Russia accounted for nearly 1/4 of all EU butter exports. Following the embargo, dairy prices plummeted across the EU and forced many farmers out of business. As a result, the current production is no longer able to keep up with the sudden increase in demand, leading many to fear that delicious, flaky, buttery French croissants may be more difficult to find than ever.
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