The French Butter Shortage Putting Pastries at Risk

October 23, 2017

Butter, the shining star French cuisine, is in short supply. Due to an increase of international interest in French pastries, the country is experiencing an unprecedented butter shortage.

The distress is real. Last week, French newspaper Le Monde published a guide to cooking without butter as supermarket dairy aisles began appearing worryingly sparse.

The price of butter has, in fact, risen 60 percent in the past year and peaked at $7.90 a kilogram this August. The cause is twofold. On one hand, growing markets have an increased interest in french pastries like croissants and pain au chocolat: in an interview with the French radio station, RTL, Dominique Charge, the head of the national cooperative of dairy products, claims that butter is "more and more in demand in emerging economies like China and the Middle East." At the same time, European milk producers are witnessing an unprecedented dip in production. It’s the combination of these two that’s led some grocery stores to put up signs apologizing for their meager butter supply, or complete lack thereof.

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Manufacturers and bakers are feeling the increase, and fear an inability to meet the impending holiday demands. December staples like France’s iconic Yule Log Christmas cake could be at risk. No tangible fix has been adopted as of yet, so here’s to hoping that the French butter industry can find some sort of solution. In the meantime, is this the moment for margarine?

What's your butter-less approach? Let us know how you fare in the comments.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Alan
  • Deborah Jordan-Buriel
    Deborah Jordan-Buriel
Valerio is a freelance food writer, editor, researcher and cook. He grew up in his parent's Italian restaurants covered in pizza flour and drinking a Shirley Temple a day. Since, he's worked as a cheesemonger in New York City and a paella instructor in Barcelona. He now lives in Berlin, Germany where he's most likely to be found eating shawarma.


Alan October 23, 2017
Yes, the struggle is real -- I've been seeing empty butter sections at the grocery stores in Paris lately. It's not every store, it's not all the time, but it's noticeable. And $7.90/kg sounds pretty good compared to what I've been paying. But so far, stocks of heavy cream are looking pretty good, so I guess my butter-less approach would be to get some of that and make my own butter, at least as long as everybody else doesn't have the same idea....
Deborah J. October 23, 2017
Vegans have known all along how to cook without butter and dairy. It's possible and cheaper, too. Who needs dairy? No one.