A severe butter shortage has hit Norway, due in part to high demand for butter used in traditional Norwegian Christmas dishes, as well as the popularity of a low-carbohydrate, fat-rich diet.
The butter shortfall has also been attributed to a rainy summer that cut into feed production, with a subsequent effect on dairy output.
According to Slate, the Norwegian dairy cooperative known as “Tine” has a de facto monopoly on the domestic market and is deliberately sheltered from foreign competition as a matter of public policy.
As a result, Norway imposes steep import tariffs on butter, ensuring that nine out of 10 butter packs on shelves are Norwegian. But the Norwegian government has since slashed import duties by 80 percent.
The Globe and Mail claims a major Swedish supermarket group with stores near the border have sold 25 tons in the last two weeks alone, while a TV show in Denmark gathered 4,000 bricks to ship north.
The butter shortage has reportedly forced a butter trade in the black market. News agencies report that a smuggler with 90 kilograms in his car was arrested crossing from Sweden last week, while butter is going for the equivalent of about $32 (U.S.) a pound online — six times the normal shop price.
A housewife, Christiane Pevik, says when she goes to a grocery store outside the capital, Oslo, the first thing she asks is if they have butter, and the answer is usually “no”.
“It’s really stupid because I just want to bake for Christmas,” said Pevik. “But I guess it’s no crisis really. I’m sure the butter will be back.”
“We sell more butter than ever before. This week we started to see a shortage,” said Fredrik Jakobsson, CEO of the Swedish supermarket chain whose four stores near the border sold 25 tons of butter in the past two weeks. “We had bought extra supplies, but it was still not enough, so now we are bringing in even more.”
December 15th, 2011