Business, Finance & Economics

Sweden bravely endures national butter shortage

For the past month, Swedish supermarkets have struggled to stock enough butter to meet customer demand, the Guardian reports. This past week, the butter supply decreased to unusual lows, the Swedish Dairy Association said.

The reason? Supply and demand are out of whack.

"Over the last 20 years we have seen a 15 percent drop in milk production in Sweden," Lennart Holmström, an analyst at the Swedish Dairy Association, told the Guardian. "There are too few young people going into dairy farming these days, and there has been too little investment in existing farms."

At the same time, “back to basics” cooking is back in fashion. ”Light products are not in vogue at the moment, people are going back to basics when they cook and bake today,” celebrity chef Leila Lindholm told Swedish news site the Local. “I always bake with butter and wouldn't dream of using anything else,” she added.

The shortages have been so acute that one newspaper – Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet – offered a creative solution, the Guardian reports:

The newspaper even ran a butter recipe for readers wanting to churn their own. All they would need, the paper told them, was a mixing bowl, whipping cream and salt.

"Swedes think butter is delicious," said the tabloid.

It’s been grim, but Claes Henriksson, chief press officer for major Swedish butter manufacturer Arla Foods, told the Local that the butter situation should normalize within three to four weeks. Cows produce more milk in the autumn than the summer, he said, and this week, Arla Foods announced it would start buying cream from Denmark in order to make enough butter to meet demand.

”We think we have found a solution to the problem,” Henriksson said. “By importing cream from Denmark and using it in other products we free up enough Swedish cream to produce our Swedish butter.”

The more obvious solution to the problem – importing foreign butter – would not fly, the Swedish Dairy Association’s Holmström told the Guardian. "Swedish consumers are very loyal about buying Swedish produce,” he said.