Now is not a great time to be a baker or a restaurateur in Europe. The entire continent is running out of butter and it’s a “major crisis,” says the Federation des Entrepreneurs de la Boulangerie, an industry group for French bakers, in this CNN report.
The shortage comes at a time when demand for butter is booming. For years, margarine and other butter substitutes were the rage. But now consumption of the real thing around the world is on the rise. Both Europeans and Americans are consuming a half a pound of butter more than they were back in 2010 according to government reports, and the Chinese are thirsty for milk products now more than ever. Overall, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is forecasting a jump of about 3 percent in global butter consumption this year.
The growing demand has put a strain on the industry. Due to a significant fall in prices mainly brought on by a 2014 Russian embargo of European food products, the cost of a bottle of milk in many parts of the continent was lower than a similar bottle of water.
The industry responded by producing less and dipping into their stockpiles, causing a 98 percent decline in inventories. Now, as prices have begun to rise again, there’s not enough butter to go around.
“In France, if bakeries wish to make croissants, pain au chocolat or patisseries then consumers will have to pay more,” a representative of the French bakers’ association told CNBC.