France is facing a croissant crisis with bakers, farmers and food-producers all voicing significant concern over a butter shortage.
With the national signature usually made up of ¼ butter it looks likely that the consumer will be dealt with rising prices and scarce supplies in the coming months. Though the butter shortage has not yet impacted supermarket supply, given that France is the world’s biggest butter consumer it’s not surprising that consumers are dashing to the stores to load up on it.
The cause of the current butter shortage is difficult to pinpoint. Milk production has been falling for some time culminating in a poor yield in 2016. Coupled with a growing demand for butter around the world – particularly in China and the USA - the price of industrial butter has soared from €2,500 a tonne in April 2016 to €7,000 this summer.
EU abolition of milk quoatas
The butter market in general has become more turbulent following the EU’s abolition of milk quotas in 2015. This change caused an initial surge in milk supplies and a consequent plummet in global profits, prompting dairy farmers to then decrease output. With butter also seen increasingly as less of a health risk than previously, and with vegetable-oil alternatives no longer viewed as being significantly healthier, butter consumption simultaneously has started to increase.
Dairy farmers have complained that this global butter phenomenon doesn’t pay well and is often tied to cheaper raw milk and milk powder prices. This has seen EU farmers look to produce higher quality and better priced products like cheese or cream. Consequently, pastry makers and bakers have less wholesale butter available to buy in – for France this is a particular hit, especially for croissant lovers.
Stephane Travert, the agriculture and food minister in France, suggest that milk production is due to rise, therefore boosting butter output. But in the short-term it looks like being a far less buttery winter than usual for the French consumer.
The Guardian: 'Croissants in crisis: Could French bakers crumble amid butter shortage' - 25/10/17