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Swedes warned over looming butter shortage

Karen Holst · 1 Sep 2011, 14:02

Published: 01 Sep 2011 14:02 GMT+02:00

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According to the association, Svensk Mjölk, this year’s butter shortage is emerging a daunting two to three months early, casting a grim outlook on the domestic ability to meet Sweden’s rising butter demand through the end of the year.

”The supply of butter has been a problem the last two years, and in those years the shortage typically began in the very late autumn or just before Christmas – never as early as now,” Lennart Holmström, a statistics and market expert at the Swedish Dairy Association, told The Local.

Sweden has less and less raw milk available annually amid soaring demand for high-fat dairy products such as creams, butters and milk, as the natural fat found in dairy products isn't as considered as dangerous as it was previously.

”This means that there is less fat to be used for actual butter,” Holmström explained.

Other current trends that impact the shortage are consumer preferences for natural, locally produced products, an annual decrease in total milk production in Sweden and seasonal variations related to milk production.

”We are entering the climbing process right now so there is less total milk available,” Holmström said.

”Spring is usually better due to the biological nature of cows and convenience for farmers.”

Although exact figures related to the butter shortage are not available, Holmström did say that the dairy production in Sweden has decreased by about 20 percent as compared to 20 years ago.

In addition, Sweden has a long-standing loss of between 6-7 percent of its dairy farmers who quit each year.

Holmström expects the shortage to endure through the end of the year.

”Consumers may begin to find it difficult to find butter and butter-related products made in Sweden at their local grocery stores. In turn, they may see an increase in imports related to this segment,” he said, noting that there is already a large number of imported products in other dairy segments such as cheese.

Story continues below…

To pad the domestic market from continuing butter shortages, Holmström suggested imploring initiatives to increase Sweden’s raw milk production by creating ’a better economy at the farmer level,’ encouraging farmers to build larger herds and invest in their milk production, and develop tactics that keep farmers farming longer.

”This combination will provide more raw milk in Sweden,” he said.

Efforts through different organizations are underway to support an increase in national milk production but strong evidence leading to a conclusion of their success rates won’t emerge until 2013.

Karen Holst (kholstmedia@gmail.com)

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Your comments about this article

17:14 September 1, 2011 by Svensksmith
The life of a dairyman is tough. The cows have to be milked 2 or 3 times a day, everyday, without fail. Then there is equipment, buildings, your herd and fields to maintian. All for a very low or non-existent profit if the milk prices fall.

It's no wonder why so many small producers get out of the business to be replaced by huge mega-dairies which exist due to large government subsidies, and often produce an inferior product laced with hormones, pesticide residue, anti-biotics and (in the US) GMOs.

Real shame.
18:03 September 1, 2011 by calebian22
Lely makes a great robotic milking machine that helps increase output due to lower stress on the cows. Additionally, the cows access the machine as they feel the need without the farmer's guidance. Check it out on Youtube. It's the Lely A4 Astronaut.
18:26 September 1, 2011 by Njal
This sounds somewhat like 'artificial scarcity', and it would be hard to believe that the large corporate dairy producers didn't have a hand in this. It wouldn't be the first time such a tactic has been used to manipulate profits.

People of any land really ought to be in charge of their own food production, and not have govt.s/corporations tell what us what the 'food shortage' will be for any given year.
18:40 September 1, 2011 by Shibumi
"Sweden's butter shortage is set to reach alarming new lows this year"

If the "shortage" is "low"...that means there will be plenty of butter.
21:43 September 1, 2011 by J. L. Belmar

How right. If the "shortage" is "low"...It means that there is a shortage of good English speaking journalists at The Local. Maybe they need to be greased with butter.
22:30 September 1, 2011 by millionmileman
If things become worse Sweden could always import more from Denmark!
23:59 September 1, 2011 by skumdum
I blame EU
01:10 September 2, 2011 by Luke R D
Oh no! A butter shortage - aaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!! Goodbye cruel world!
09:05 September 2, 2011 by J. L. Belmar
01:10 September 2, 2011 by Luke R D

Hold on! Wait for me!
12:25 September 2, 2011 by Puffin
Thanks to Arla who has put most of the independent dairies and dairy farmers out of business
12:46 September 2, 2011 by Rick Methven
I'm sure that there is a butter mountain somewhere in the EU that can be tapped to provide a replacement source.

Sad thing is that there are many small dairy farms that can produce good REAL butter but are being blocked by Arla. Tomorrow is the local farmers market and I shall buy some real Eco butter from a small local producercand stuff Arla
14:28 September 2, 2011 by J. L. Belmar
Elyesa Basna has spoken!Be careful!
12:29 September 28, 2011 by Beavis
There is excess just down the road where the same company exports butter from far off Denmark. Why not sell Danish butter/Norwegian butter instead? Is it because it tastes 1000 times better?
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