Oh la vache: France suffers from shortage of butter

Have you noticed the gaps in the supermarket fridges in France or a hike in the price of your croissant?

Oh la vache: France suffers from shortage of butter
Photo: AFP

The consequences of France running out of butter could be pretty catastrophic. For a start you might have to bid adieu to your morning croissant or pain au chocolat.

Although we are'nt there yet, France is suffering from a shortage of butter and we can’t say we haven’t been warned because those in the dairy industry have been doing just that for months.

According to a report in Le Monde newspaper on Friday the shortage is due in part to a huge increase in demand for butter throughout the developing world as well as the growing appetite for French pastries like croissants, notably in China.

But even in France the rate of butter consumption has increased by five percent in recent years.

Have you noticed gaps in the refrigerated shelves of your supermarkets? It appears that only the most expensive brands of butter are now available in many supermarkets in France.

Brittany, Normandy, Franche-Comté and Centre-Val de Loire are particularly affected, reports say.

Some stores have been forced to put up the notice: “The butter market faces an unprecedented shortage of raw material which has led to shortages in stores.”

As The Local reported back in June, the price of butter has exploded in recent months. In 2016 the price of a ton of butter was €2,500 but by this summer it had reached €7,000.

That hike has not had much of an impact on the price of butter in supermarkets yet because the industry sets the price for big supermarkets on an annual basis.

Hugues Beyler, director of the Federation of Commerce and Distribution (FCD) said for the moment there are only “occasional shortages, often linked to problems of logistics” as well as the butter-loving French public panic buying and filling their shopping baskets with more blocks of “President” than usual.

And the knock on effect is that the price of your morning pastry is steadily going up, with many bakers having been forced to add 5 or 10 centimes on the price of a croissant.

France's federation of bakeries has called for the dairy industry to prioritise the production of butter as a way of battling the rise in prices. 


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French butter shortage eases in time for Christmas

French pastry lovers can breathe a sigh of relief as new figures reveal the butter crisis that has led to empty supermarket shelves looks like easing,thanks in the main to people having stopped panic buying.

French butter shortage eases in time for Christmas

Fears that France's much publicized butter shortage could hamper Christmas culinary traditions were eased on Monday.

New figures released on Monday suggest that butter sales are returning to normal in France raising hopes that no one will have to miss out on their traditional Galette des Rois on January 6th or their Bûche de Noël (Chocolate log).

The figures by data analysts Nielsen showed that the phenomenon of panic buying butter, which was exacerbating the crisis, had died down.

Sales in the second week of November were slightly down (1.1 percent) on the same week in 2016.

The amount of butter being bought in big supermarkets was up 17.8 percent but that represents a marked drop on the last week of October when sales were 41 percent up on last year.

Apart from a fall in panic buying, butter production has also increased in France, thanks in part to a rise of 3.4 percent in milk production. In July milk production had dropped by two percent.

Data also revealed that many in France turned to margarine as a replacement for butter with sales increasing by 10 percent.

Nevertheless don't be surprised if your local supermarket still has empty shelves as things may take a while to return to normal.

Nielsen revealed that 47 percent of the demand for butter was not been met in the second week of November.