Low supply, high demand causing butter crisis in Europe

By Ed Adamczyk  |  Aug. 9, 2017 at 12:41 PM
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Aug. 9 (UPI) -- The high price of butter in Europe, caused by increasing global demand, has the dairy industry fearing possible shortages by the end of the year.

CNN reported the wholesale price of butter in the continent has doubled and Europeans have seen a 20 percent increase in price, data from Euromonitor indicate. A worldwide increase in demand, notably in China, has caused supplies to fall and prices to rise.

Butter prices rose 14 percent in June, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization reported, and the European Union noted a 99 percent decline of butter reserves in Europe in May. The continent's 98,548-ton supply in May 2016 declined to 1,396 tons one year later.

Peder Tuburgh, CEO of Denmark's Alra Foods, the world's fourth-largest producer of dairy products, predicted the shortfall in July when he told customers to expect a possible scarcity by Christmas. Britain's National Farmers Union dismissed his comments as "scaremongering."

The current shortage is particularly severe in France, CNBC reported. Federation des Entrepreneurs de la Boulangerie, a trade group of French bakers, called the issue a "major crisis," and warned of a sharp increase in the cost of pastries.

"The price of butter, while certainly volatile, has never reached such a level before. Butter shortages appear to be a real threat by the end of the year," it said in a statement.

The cause of the imbalance can be traced to supply and demand. European dairies are producing less milk at a time when consumers worldwide are returning to dairy products, notably butter, after previous worries linking the spread to heart disease.

Europeans ate, on average, 8.4 pounds of butter in 2015, up from 7.9 pounds per year in 2010. Americans ate 5.6 pounds of butter in 2015, up from 4.9 pounds in 2010, U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics indicate.

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