Butter shortage leaves France in a churn
PARIS— It is hard to imagine a country where butter is taken more seriously than it is in France.
It is a staple of sauces and baking alike. Without butter, or beurre in French, the croissant would be a leaden mass of flour, and the jambon-beurre sandwich missing a certain something. So an empty butter shelf in France is like a dry baguette: deeply disconcerting.
But with a slump in European dairy production and a surge in world demand, that is exactly what some French are encountering in stores.
In truth, the shortages, though noticeable nationwide, have been sporadic, and France gives no appearance of grinding to a halt. But in a country that by some measures consumes more butter per head than anyplace else, that is a fine point.
And so French news outlets are giving advice on how to replace butter or churn your own.
Online, shoppers shared pictures of empty shelves, and jokers ran fake advertisements offering small amounts of butter for ludicrous prices. Inevitably, a #BeurreGate hashtag popped up.
Last year, France consumed about 18 pounds of butter per capita, according to statistics from a coming report by the International Dairy Federation. That is over twice the European Union average, and more than three times the figure in the U.S.
It is unclear how long the shortages will linger. The government argues that production traditionally picks up in the winter, but the industry counters that demand also increases toward Christmas.