Norway is currently staring down the barrel of a situation that’s most unusual for the country: a national butter shortage.
According to some reports, the butter shortage is the result of a combination between a wet summer (reducing feed quality for dairy cattle, in turn reducing milk output) and a sudden massive uptick in demand for butter. The latter is said to be caused by a recent Norwegian affinity for low-carb diets. "Sales all of a sudden just soared, 20 percent in October then 30 percent in November," Lars Galtung, the head of communications at Norwegian dairy cooperative Tine, told Reuters. "Norwegians are not afraid of natural fats, they love their butter and cream.”
Other reports, however, point to different factors also contributing to the butter shortage. Tine is more than just the largest dairy cooperative in Norway – it reportedly comprises 90 percent of the Norwegian butter market, dwarfing any and all competition. Many Norwegian citizens have grown critical of the coop and its hold over the country’s dairy supply, claiming that its monopoly within the industry has more to do with the shortage than any low-carb diet craze. “The butter crisis illustrates that administrative steering of markets doesn’t work,” said Norwegian newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) in an editorial published this week. “The time has come to phase out the privileges of Norwegian cooperatives.”
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While Tine did manage to scrounge up 40 tons of reserve butter, it’s one of the little guys that went the distance in terms of providing the country with its much sought-after condiment. Rival dairy company Synnøve Finden reached out to Belgium – country that has way more up its culinary sleeve than just waffles and fries – for several hundred tons of the stuff.
“It’s always nice to deliver something folks want,” Synnøve Finden CEO Lars Tretteteig told the DN. That’s good news for the Norwegian people, and especially good for Synnøve Finden in terms of public goodwill when all of the butter-flavored dust settles. How Tine will fare in the long run may be a different story.