Why is butter so expensive?

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It turns out it’s not just me being dramatic on my Facebook status but research states that the price of butter has indeed doubled over a very short space of time.

I remember buying a small brick of the yellow gold (250g) early this year for around R25 at Spar, this evening I went to stock up and found myself forking out 25% more for the same thing (in, the, same, year, HOW.). I get we are in junk status mode but there must be more to this price hike than that because over a few years I have noticed the price of butter increasing but it doesn’t quite hit you until you work and earn your own salary that you understand why your mother stopped making scones with butter and instead opted for “baking margarine”- not the same thing!

Being the millennial muser that I am, I decided to genuinely find out and do some research and investigate why my favourite staple has become so expensive so that in future I can  contribute more willingly and knowledgeably to the butter industry and instead of feeling like I am being ripped off, actually understand how my R32 makes a difference in an artisan’s life.

One of my favourite articles that I came across when I asked google “Why is butter so expensive?” was from the

and these are the 4 interesting things I learnt about this phenomenon:

  • Butter is not just expensive in South Africa, its a global trend! While we experience double digit percentage increases in a matter of months, the Europeans are facing a very serious and very possible “croissant apocalypse” *insert gasp here*
  • The industry cannot keep up with the high demand. According to NZ Herald an online news website that profiled Fonterra (the world’s largest dairy exporter), the industry has failed to keep up with the high global demand of butter and suppliers are now overexerting themselves and their resources to match the demand as stipulated in this excerpt:

“The unprecedented demand for milk fat is what dairy giant Fonterra is blaming for the global butter shortage. The fat from about 20 litres of raw milk makes up a single 500g block of butter. That’s nearly the total amount that can be milked from two cows in one day. 250 metric tonnes of butter is churned out of Fonterra’s Te Rapa factory daily. But it ‘s still not nearly enough to meet the huge worldwide demand.”

  • All your Banting buddies, are to blame… In more than two articles now I have seen it being referenced that there has been a sudden global surge (over a 3 to 5 year period) in the demand for high fat products as a result of eating trends and this has indirectly impacted the price of our beloved butter. Who would have guessed?!
  • Apart from changing consumer habits, Business Live added that the ongoing drought in the Western Cape is also attributable to the butter price hike as they are contributors of half (along with the Eastern Cape) of all the milk production for the country, and water is one of the most important inputs in dairy production.

So naturally this got me thinking…”so how is butter produced”, and for this answer, I went to YouTube; click here to watch the video.

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