Trying to imagine French food without butter is like trying to imagine a grilled cheese without cheese. According to a recent report by The Globe and Mail butter prices have doubled over the past year, raising to a record high of more than 6 euros ($7.05) a kilo.
Because of this, bakeries are struggling to stay afloat by keeping their current prices of croissants and tarts. The Globe and Mail reports that butter makes up 25 percent of a croissant’s mass. In 2016, each person in France consumed around 18 pounds of butter, the New York Times reports. That’s more than three times the amount the average person consumes in the United States.
Some supermarket shelves have been wiped clean of butter, and others display signs detailing the butter crisis. According to the New York Times, European media outlets are offering tips on how to churn your own butter and asking the important questions: “Will there be butter for Christmas?” After media coverage of the noticeable, but sporadic shortage, a flurry of tweets using #BeurreGate popped up on social media.
“I thought to myself: Not having butter in France, that’s appalling,” Laurence Meyre, a woman who was stocking up on butter in a Paris supermarket, told the New York Times.
While it doesn’t seem likely that France will run out of butter any time soon, because of the increase in worldwide butter demand, consumers, bakers and dairy farmers are grappling with the tension. The shortage comes in the wake of President Emmanuel Macron’s promise to correct the food chain so farmers can make more of a profit. Many news outlets, including the New York Times, have attributed the butter shortage back to 2015, when the European Union quota on how much milk farmers can produce was lifted, allowing them to produce as much milk as they please. But because of this, the focus has shifted to other dairy products like cream cheese, and producers are opting to ship their butter products overseas to meet worldwide demand and make a higher profit Mashable reports.
Then, poor weather conditions yielded low crops in 2016, and retailers and farmers are experiencing price tensions, all of which have resulted in a shortage of butter in the country that uses it most.
So, will we the French be saying ‘au revoir’ to their beloved, buttery croissants? Probably not. They just might get a little more expensive as time goes on.