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Croissant crisis: France is facing a major butter shortage

Croissant crisis: France is facing a major butter shortage
[Photo: Kaley Dykstra/Unsplash]

Forget carbo loading because you may want to start carbo hoarding when you hear this news: France is running out of butter for its croissants—and also its puff pastries, eclairs, kouign amanns, beurre blancs, custards,  pains au chocolat, maître d’hôtels, and (don’t tell Marcel Proust) even its madeleines.

The French love of butter is well known, but now the world’s biggest per-capita butter consumers are facing a butter shortage so serious that Le Figaro called it “the worst since the Second World War.” Restaurants and customers are stocking up on the precious gold baking material as the risk of more shortages loom.

There are many reasons for the shortage, but most people place the blame at the foot of the  European Union, which abolished its system of milk quotas in 2015. As you may have guessed after that one Economics class you took in college, that caused the milk supply to rise, the price to fall, and the farmers to cut their output in the hopes of making more money from growing global demand. The price of industrial butter went from 2,500 euros ($2,900 US) a ton in April 2016 to 7,000 euros ($8, 100) a ton this summer, according to the Local.

The problem is compounded by the fact that French retailers don’t want to increase prices, and won’t pay higher prices for butter, according to Thierry Roquefeuil, chairman of the milk-producers’ federation FNPL, who spoke to Bloomberg. That is causing dairy producers to take their butter elsewhere, and with delicious, buttery pastries becoming increasingly popular around the world, thanks to butter’s redemption, there are plenty of buyers. While France’s legislature swears butter will be back soon, until then, best to hoard your croissants.ML