Shops not buttered up by all of Banting
THE Banting diet, which promotes high-fat and high-protein intake, has contributed to pent-up demand for full-cream milk, resulting in low supplies of butter on supermarket shelves in South Africa.
International butter prices have also been rising due to strong demand, which analysts have pinned on consumers’ changing eating habits. “The local consumer has increased demand for full-cream milk, butter and full-cream products, reducing the demand for lowfat milk and products,” says Absa agricultural economist Conce Moraba this week.
Shoprite Checkers and Pick n Pay confirmed this week that they were experiencing shorter supplies of butter from local manufacturers.
The market is experiencing an increased demand for butter as opposed to margarine, as well as fullcream versus skimmed milk, which also competes with raw products available for production of butter, according to a Shoprite spokesperson, who did not want to be named.
“Pick n Pay’s preference is always to buy local, and import as a last resort. Local producers are currently having some difficulty meeting the demand for butter, which is partly a seasonal issue . . . in winter, cows tend to produce less milk,” said Brian Austin, head of groceries and perishables at Pick n Pay.
“Added to this, customers are increasingly choosing full-cream milk over low-fat and fat-free milk, which means there is less cream available with which to make butter,” Austin said.
Massmart, which owns Game and Makro stores, said the manufacturers have indicated high demand for full-cream products, although this has not affected the on-shelf availability in its stores.
The buoyant demand for fullcream products comes as South Africa is recovering from last year’s drought, which also affected dairy producers.
The Milk Producers Organisation said this week that lower feed prices would probably have a positive effect on the milk industry in the coming months.
However, the industry body cautioned that the effect of the drought remained largely unclear and production may remain depressed.
The Shoprite spokesperson said: “The supermarket chain applies the policy of sourcing locally first and it will only look to supplement [butter] volumes required to service its customers from abroad when necessary or if a price advantage can be gained in the interest of the consumer.”
Meanwhile, the South African Poultry Association said last month that egg prices were likely to rise by 8% after last year’s drought squeezed small-scale farmers out of business. Defined as those with between 5 000 and 40 000 hens, smallscale farmers buckled under the high cost of feed such as maize.
CREAM SCENE: Dairy cows at a farm