Europe has a but­ter prob­lem

Prices are ris­ing as de­mand in­creases around the world

The Hamilton Spectator - - BUSINESS - GENE MARKS

Now is not a great time to be a baker or a restau­ra­teur in Europe. The en­tire con­ti­nent is run­ning out of but­ter and it’s a “ma­jor cri­sis,” the Fed­er­a­tion des En­trepreneurs de la Boulan­gerie, an in­dus­try group for French bak­ers, said in a re­cent CNN re­port.

The short­age comes at a time when de­mand for but­ter is boom­ing. For years, mar­garine and other but­ter sub­sti­tutes were the rage. But now con­sump­tion of the real thing around the world is on the rise. Both Euro­peans and Amer­i­cans are con­sum­ing a half a pound of but­ter more than they were back in 2010 ac­cord­ing to gov­ern­ment re­ports, and the Chi­nese are thirsty for more milk prod­ucts now more than ever. Over­all, the U.S. De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture is fore­cast­ing a jump of about three per cent in global but­ter con­sump­tion this year.

The grow­ing de­mand has put a strain on the in­dus­try. Due to a sig­nif­i­cant fall in prices mainly brought on by a 2014 Rus­sian em­bargo of Euro­pean food prod­ucts, the cost of a bot­tle of milk in many parts of the con­ti­nent was lower than a sim­i­lar bot­tle of wa­ter.

The in­dus­try re­sponded by pro­duc­ing less and dip­ping into stock­piles, caus­ing a 98 per cent de­cline in in­ven­to­ries. Now, as prices have be­gun to rise again, there’s not enough but­ter.

All of this is hav­ing a big im­pact on bak­eries, restau­rants and other small busi­nesses in the food in­dus­try across the con­ti­nent. With but­ter prices ris­ing more than 20 per cent over this time last year and sup­plies dwin­dling, many have been forced to in­crease their own prices to main­tain mar­gins or dis­con­tinue prod­ucts al­to­gether.


Grow­ing de­mand for but­ter glob­ally has led to short­ages of but­ter in Europe.

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