Sacré Beurre! Butter Shortage in France Has Pastry Makers Scrambling

Pastry makers and, like, everybody else.

By Ethan L. Johns
October 24, 2017

If you’re the sort of person who has your croissants flown in every morning directly from France (worth it), you’re definitely going to want to strap yourself in, because France is in the middle of a butter shortage. A shortage that, according to the French newspaper Le Figaro, has reached an extreme not seen since the Second World War.

With images of empty supermarket shelves circulating, it turns out that a large part of the blame is actually being placed on foreign consumption. With the ease of transporting goods across the world, countries in Asia and the Middle East have been gobbling up more French pastry (and all the butter that goes with it) than ever before. Because who wouldn’t want to eat all of those colorful pâtisseries and flaky viennoiseries directly from France?

After EU dairy quotas were axed in 2015, massive overproduction led to a drop in prices and eventually a market crash.With a glut of milk and nobody to sell it to, producers looked forward, scaling back their operations in anticipation of another surplus. It seems now that they might have gone too far. According to the AP, the price of butter rose 60 percent in a year, attaining 6.7 euros ($7.9) per kilo in August.

Small bakers and pastry makers have been scrambling to find butter to fulfill orders. Pastry prices have risen. Some have even had to cut back on their workers’ hours.

There is no real need to fear, though, according to France’s Minister of Agriculture, Stéphane Travert. Travert asserted in a radio interview Tuesday that the present dearth of dairy “is not going to last.”

“Things are going to come back gradually,” he said. “We have a major dairy output that is going to rebound, seeing as we are entering into the fall and winter periods.”

Good thing there’s no Thanksgiving in France, because ‘tis the season for mashed potatoes and a copious amount of butter ain’t going to churn itself.

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About Ethan L. Johns

Ethan is the Food News Writer at Genius Kitchen. An expert on the Parisian bistrot, he likes bitters and salted butters, and is no fan of dessert unless it's made with fruit. His hobbies include reading up on the history of borscht and attempting to roll perfect couscous by hand. Twits & Instagram @EthanLJohns