Why butter and cream can run out

The summer drought has reduced milk production and risks disrupting the production of dairy products in the coming months, especially butter and cream.

Are we going to run out of butter and cream? After the historic drought that affected France this summer, the presence of dairy products will be much less on the supermarket shelves. Because, in the pasture, the grass is no longer green: the pastures suffered from the dry spring and then from the successive stages of the heat wave. Dairy cattle breeders no longer have enough grass to feed their animals, forcing them to dip into stocks of fodder reserved for the winter season or to buy feed.

Added to the summer drought is the surge in production costs. The price of animal feed is necessary to increase the lack of fodder, but also fertilizers to grow fodder crops and fuel to run agricultural machinery. The price of milk has also increased, but not enough to allow farmers to recover the high production costs – calls to raise the selling price of milk to 1 euro per liter in supermarkets have increased since the beginning of the year.

Few milk cows

Faced with this difficult equation to solve, some breeders choose to share some of their animals to reduce their costs and bring money, by sending cows of fertile age to the slaughterhouse. Some producers, in the worst case, may also abandon breeding. Fewer dairy cows means less milk production, and therefore less milk available for the food industry. Especially since cows produce less milk during heat waves.

A situation weighing on the production of butter and cream. The tension in dairy fats is high, due to the growing demand around the world, and even though the collection of milk has decreased for several years due to the lack of renewal of the farms (the drought is only increasing in event). The giant Lactalis, owner of the brands Lactel and Presidente, mentioned the risk of a magazine shortage 60 million consumersalso evokes a milk with less fat due to poor animal food.

“The collection of milk in the spring usually allows production and the construction of large stocks to compensate for the usual lack of fat in the second half of the year”, explained a spokesperson of Lactalis in the magazine. “Never, at the beginning of this second part of the year, there are butter stocks so low. So we can expect a serious shortage”.

Lack rather than scarcity

The President and CEO of the National Federation of the Dairy Industry (Fnil), François-Xavier Huard, however wants to reassure: you do not expect completely empty shelves in supermarkets. However, production risks being disrupted due to lack of milk. Milk producers “may make trade-offs between dairy products, depending on availability and price”, explained the boss of Fnil, which unites dairy companies. But it’s hard to say right now what these trade-offs are.

“We should talk about scarcity rather than lack. We will not run out of butter or cream, but there may not be as much quantity and as much variety in the ranges as usual”, points out François-Xavier Loon.

There is reason to fear impulsive buying by some customers when there is little available butter or cream in stores, remembering the effect of “sunflower oil” in the spring linked to the war in Ukraine. Some consumers, fearing a possible shortage, made precautionary purchases to store bottles at home, an overconsumption that exacerbated the temporary shortage of sunflower oil and emptied the shelves in some supermarkets, convincing other consumers to do the same.

Jeremy Bruno BFMTV journalist

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