Europe has a butter problem
Prices are rising as demand increases around the world
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.