A Cookie-less Christmas? Norway Faces Butter Shortage

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Denmark is trying to wean its people off butter by imposing a hefty “fat tax,” but their neighbors across the Skagerrak in Norway can’t get enough of the golden goodness. A diet fad in the Scandinavian country has depleted the nation’s supply of butter. While we’d use the term “diet” lightly, the newest craze is a low-carb, high-fat feeding frenzy that has put a strain on Norway’s butter supply.

“Sales all of a sudden just soared,” Lars Galtung, head of communications at TINE, the country’s biggest farmer-owned cooperative, told Reuters. “Twenty percent in October then thirty percent in November.” The fat fad coupled with a summer that saw a major reduction in milk production spells empty supermarket dairy fridges. This year’s wet summer ruined animal feed, reducing cows’ outputs to 25 million liters less than last year. As a result, this year’s hot Christmas item isn’t the iPad or an Angry Birds game; it’s much more primitive: butter.

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Without butter, there are no cakes or cookies, dry toast and crusty croissants — it’s as if the Grinch had found a new way of ruining “the most wonderful time of the year”.  So it’s no surprise that profiteers are looking to make a buck off desperate butter-hunters. Auction sites are seeing spiking prices on all things butter, where a 250-gram piece (about two sticks) is selling for $13. That’s roughly four times the average.

And their southern neighbors in Denmark, who’ve managed to cut back on the fatty ingredient, surely have some on their shelves – but that doesn’t mean they’re willing to share. Norway’s high import duties mean that butter won’t be shipped across the narrow strait. Maybe holiday shoppers in Norway ought to think about a package of butter for any last-minute gifts this year.

READ: Margarine’s Triumph Over Butter