France Faces Growing Butter Shortage
There is no question that France loves butter. From traditional croissants to tasty éclairs, French pastries are packed with butter. Roux, a thickening agent made of flour and butter, is one of the pillars of French cooking. It is used in everything from soups to sauces. Unfortunately, this addiction to butter has proved to be France's undoing. They are currently experiencing a national butter shortage. With the average French citizen consuming 18 pounds of butter a year, this comes as a blow to those who enjoy eating well.
Food industry experts first raised the alarm in the summer of 2017. Due to a decreased demand after milk overproduction in 2015, butter production slowed in Europe. Since then, demand has soared at home and abroad, but the dairy sector has been unable to keep up. Dairy companies began to raise their prices in August, but local French grocers are unwilling to charge their patrons extra for their butter. Butter suppliers have reportedly been selling most of their butter abroad where they can get a higher price. Unfortunately, this has led to empty supermarket shelves and worried patrons who fear that their traditional baked treats are in danger this holiday season. The shortage has also affected bakeries and pastry companies. Some of them are having difficulty fulfilling orders due to the lack of available butter. The milk-producing regions of Brittany and Normandy are experiencing the most scarcity. Currently, top milk-producing countries like the United States and New Zealand are exporting less milk to France, exacerbating an already existing problem.
France previously experienced a serious butter shortage during and after World War II when butter was strictly rationed. In 2011, a severe butter shortage developed in Norway after the government levied high tariffs on foreign butter. This caused the so-called butter panic; millions of Norwegians bought all the country's butter and hoarded their supplies to weather the shortage. The butter shortage ended up costing the country an estimated $5 million.
Analysts predict that French customers will have to become accustomed to paying more for their butter for the time being. As the holidays approach, demand for butter to use in seasonal baked goods will only rise. Consumers will have to wait until spring to see if milk supplies will rebound.
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