French Butter Shortage

FOLKS IN SPAIN’S NEIGHBORING NATION OF FRANCE ARE FACING A PROBLEM OF THEIR OWN.

THEY’RE RUNNING OUT OF BUTTER. IT MIGHT NOT SOUND LIKE THAT BIG OF A DEAL – JUST EAT YOUR TOAST PLAIN – BUT FOR FRANCE, IT’S A WAY OF LIFE.

CRUST MAKERS HAVE HAD TO LAY OFF EMPLOYEES, AND PRICES FOR THE GOOD STUFF HAVE SKYROCKETED.  SO HERE’S THE PROBLEM.

A TON OF BUTTER --- WHICH ONLY EIGHTEEN MONTHS AGO COST TWENTY-FIVE-HUNDRED EUROS -- NOW GOES FOR NEARLY SEVEN THOUSAND! AS A RESULT, PRICES HAVE ALREADY GONE UP ON BREAKFAST CROISSANTS.

EXPERTS SAY THE REASON IS A HUGE INCREASE IN DEMAND ON WORLD MARKETS, ‘AND’ A DECLINE IN MILK SUPPLIES.

JIM BITTERMANN HAS THE STORY.

BUT BEFORE HE STARTS… YOU’LL HEAR HIM MENTION SUBSIDIES.

A SUBSIDY IS A PAYMENT BY THE GOVERNMENT TO AN INDUSTRY, TO KEEP COSTS ON PRODUCTS LOW. IN THIS CASE THE FRENCH GOVERNMENT PROVIDES DAIRY FARMERS WITH
FINANCES SO THE BUTTER CAN BE SOLD AT A LOWER COST. NOW, LET’S CHECK IT OUT.

JIM: IF CHEFS HERE SEEM TO BE TREATING THEIR BUTTER BETTER THESE DAYS IT'S BECAUSE THERE IS NOT ENOUGH.

Christophe Vasseur, Baker- "When we ask to the supplier we want to buy 200 kilos of butter, they answer, 'Maybe 150, but not 200.'"

JIM:AND A BUTTER SHORTAGE IN A NATION THAT CONSUMES MORE BUTTER THAN ANY OTHER IN THE WORLD..8 KILOS OR ABOUT 18 POUNDS PER PERSON PER YEAR...A SHORTAGE IS A REAL CRISIS.

Woman on street- "Cooking without butter, eating without butter, it's unthinkable for me."

JIM: BUT DON'T BLAME THESE GUYS...THEY HAVE BEEN DOING THEIR JOB. IT'S MORE A QUESTION OF HOW THE GOVERNMENT HAS CHURNED THE BUTTER MARKET OVER THE PAST
FEW YEARS, SPREADING MILK SUBSIDIES TOO THICKLY AND THEN THINNING THEM TO NEXT TO NOTHING, AND AS A CONSEQUENCE, SUPPLIES HAVE GONE UP AND DOWN, WHILE PRICES HAVE GONE DOWN AND UP. A TON OF BUTTER NOW COSTS MORE THAN DOUBLE WHAT IT DID IN THE EARLY PART OF THIS YEAR.

JIM: CHRISTOPHE VASSEUR, WHO EACH DAY TURNS OUT A THOUSAND CROISSANTS AND OTHER LEAFY PASTRIES AT HIS PARIS BAKERY...HAS HAD TO PASS ALONG THE INCREASED COSTS TO HIS CUSTOMERS....A CROISSANT IS TEN CENTS MORE TODAY THAN IT WAS IN SEPTEMBER. BECAUSE 30% OF THE CONTENT OF ONE OF THOSE PASTRIES IS PURE BUTTER. VASSEUR BELIEVES PART OF THE INCREASED APPETITE FOR BUTTER STEMS FROM NEW HEALTH STUDIES, WHICH HAVE IMPROVED THE PRODUCT'S FATTY IMAGE.

Christophe Vasseur, Baker- "Everybody now is saying 'Oh, we should have butter on a daily diet!' A little bit, but on the daily life, it means that the demand is exploding. And on top of that last explanation, some new markets opened, like China, like Southeast Asia, like Japan."

JIM: BUT IMPROVING THE BUTTER SITUATION IS A SLIPPERY CHALLENGE ...ESPECIALLY WITH THE END OF THE YEAR APPROACHING WHEN THE FRENCH REALLY CHEW THE FAT."

Jim Bittermann-"Perhaps to avoid a run on dwindling supplies, something that could lead to a butter meltdown, the government has been trying to be very reassuring about the situation saying it has it in hand and that supplies will be back to normal before the holidays. But professionals are not so sure and some are taking things into their own hands."

JIM: SOMETHING VASSEUR IS HAPPY TO SHOW YOU IN HIS REFRIGERATOR.

Christophe Vasseur, Baker- "Usually I ordered every week, I receive like 2 or 3. So, I had to order for two months, because I don't know whether in two weeks time they're going to be able to supply me."

JIM: OBSERVERS HERE SAY IT IS JUST UNTHINKABLE THAT BUTTER SHORTAGES MIGHT LEAD TO RATIONING FOR THE HOLIDAYS...AS ONE HEADLINE WRITER PUT IT..."SACRE BEURRE!"

JIM BITTERMANN, PARIS.

RICK: THANKS JIM.

THE UNITED STATES HEALTH DEPARTMENT RECOMMENDS A DAILY INTAKE OF 3 CUPS OF DAIRY FOR 9 YEAR OLDS TO ADULTS – BUT DON’T GO CHOMPING DOWN ON STICK OF BUTTER OR LOADING UP ON ICE CREAM – THINK MORE LIKE LOW FAT MILK, AND YOGURT.


Find Out More


Website Article: Health.gov, Dietary Guidelines, 2015-2010, A Closer Look Inside Healthy Eating Patterns | Learn nutritious ways to eat.

Videos: PBS LearningMedia, Cheese Cubed, Cheese by the Numbers | In this series get the scoop on everything you want to know about cheese.

Games: Choose MyPlate, Games | Game your way through the food groups.

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