Sweden battles national butter shortage
Published: 28 Sep 2011 15:40 GMT+02:00
Updated: 28 Sep 2011 15:40 GMT+02:00
As Sweden's butter shortage enters its second month, the dairy industry is still struggling to meet demand and shelves in supermarkets up and down the country remain empty. Blame is being directed at the new back to basics cooking trend, full fat diet fads and young people turning their backs on farming.
”There are two obvious trends at the same time. On the one hand, demand for butter and cream is rising and on the other, production has been declining for the last few years,” Claes Henriksson of Swedish dairy giant Arla told The Local.
Swedish TV-chef Leila Lindholm, known for her flamboyant flans and cute cupcakes, was one of the celebrity cooks whose cookery advice was recently singled by Swedish daily Aftonbladet and British newspaper The Guardian as a reason for the shortage.
”It is very flattering that they should think that I have that much influence on the Swedish public, but I think it is slightly exaggerated,” Lindholm told The Local.
According to Lindholm there are many reasons why Swedes are choosing full fat products rather than the light varieties.
”Light products are not in vogue at the moment, people are going back to basics when they cook and bake today,” Lindholm said.
Also, she added, many diets such as LCHF (low-carb high-fat) are also advocating the use of real butter instead of margarine and other light products, at the same time as there are fewer dairy farmers producing these products in Sweden.
”There have to be farmers producing dairy products for it to be available to consumers,” she said.
Lindholmn said that if she was not able to get hold of any butter she would probably use margarine – but only if she had to.
”The alternative is using margarine and it simply doesn't taste as nice. I guess it would all depend on how desperate the situation was,” she said.
But according to Claes Henriksson at Arla there is light at the end of the tunnel.
”We think we have found a solution to the problem. By importing cream from Denmark and using it in other products we free up enough Swedish cream to produce our Swedish butter,” he said.
Arla has identified the problem as demand rising while supply is diminishing.
He added that milk production also varies depending on season – cows simply don't have as much milk in the summer.
However, with the new strategy in place, Henriksson predicted that the situation should be back to normal again in about 3-4 weeks.
In the meantime, consumers can't be sure that they won't be met with empty shelves.
”We're putting up new notices every day explaining the situation,” one supermarket manager from Stockholm told The Local.
The supply situation for Swedish supermarkets is varying from day to day, and shop to shop, and is proving difficult for stores to predict.
”We have certainly felt the butter shortage but today we have a lot of butter on the shelves,” the manager said.
He was confident the situation will improve after speaking with a supplier who promised more butter coming in from the south of Sweden.
”It would have been a bigger blow to us, had it not affected all supermarkets,” he said.
Leila Lindholm says she hadn't noticed the butter shortage in Sweden prior to the story in Aftonbladet.
”No, I had no idea. And I buy my butter in the supermarket, just like everyone else,” she told The Local.