Increased demand for French pastries and butter abroad is driving up prices and lowering supplies at home.
A good croissant always conjures up two words: flakey and buttery. To truly nail that second adjective, not just any butter will do. “High-fat, European-style butter is the key,” wrote baker Eriak Skolnik in her croissant recipe for Food & Wine. It’s a fact that France’s pastry industry—and the French people in general—are facing head on right now as the country faces a butter shortage.
This month, the European country known for its pastries has seen growing news and social media coverage of its butter’s surging prices and shrinking supply. The problem is reportedly multifaceted, with growing demand for French baked goods and butter abroad in places like Asia and the Middle East coinciding with a lower European milk supply. Meanwhile, butter consumption within France’s own borders has creeped up by about 5 percent in recent years, according to The Local. The result has been a 60-percent increase in the cost of butter in France in the past year, with photos of partially bare dairy shelves becoming increasingly prevalent on Twitter.
And while shoppers are struggling to find affordable butter at the grocery story, pastry makers are struggling to find butter that’s up to the standard of their products. “I'm looking for butter everywhere,” Claude Margerin Francois, who runs a small French pastry dough company, told the Associated Press. After working with a local producer for 15 years, she no longer is able to keep up with her orders. She said cheaper butter that can be imported from abroad won’t cut it. “Just by smelling it I could tell it was not good enough.” As a result, bakers across the country have been raising prices.
As the site France 24 points out, late last week, the French newspaper Le Figaro went so far as to publish an article titled, “Tartines, pâtisseries, cuisson : comment se passer du beurre?” helping people figure out how to bake and cook without butter. However, for now, Hugues Beyler, director of France’s Federation of Commerce and Distribution, tried to ease fears by calling the perceived lack of butter simply “occasional shortages” that can be attributed in part to the public panic buying extra butter based off all the butter shortage hype. It’s all well and good until you left eating an unbuttery croissant.