Using a lot of butter , as we do in our cakes , muffins, brownies and other goodies we are used to the cost of ingredients going up. But why an earth has the cost of butter gone up 300% recently with headlines screaming there will be butter shortages by Christmas !. Will there be a blackmarket in butter? with dodgy people standing on street corners offering you a kilo or two of the creamy good stuff ?
We've had a look behind the headlines to see just why this has happened and the answers are, unsuprisingly, that we are living in a global economy where what happens somewhere thousands of miles away has a direct impact us. Also trends for cake making and people turning their backs on processed foods and margarines in favour of natural ingredients have all played a part. Plus recent studies have also cast doubt on the link between butter and cardiovascular disease further increasing demand and while we're at it we can blame the weather too.
Anyway back to the world economy in search of an answer. World milk supplies were down 0.4% in 2016 and the combination of falling milk output and poor weather sent the international butter price to a record high in June. Then, the EU’s move to liberalise its dairy market in 2015 further depressed milk prices which more than halved between 2014 and 2015, with many dairy farmers around the world going out of business or struggling under debt.
China is back in the market buying dairy products including butter and cheese and many dairy farms in Europe and Brazil are suffering from a shortage of young cows to bring into the herd after the years of sluggish dairy prices so it will take time for the price to recover.
So we've discovered it's truly a global situation - a bit of China - EU subsidising - fashion trends - eating habits and weather have all played there part. Prices should settle down soon according to forecasts but in the meantime producers like ourselves try and absorb the costs.
That's something to think about next time your spreading some butter on your crumpet or having a slice of your favourite cake