Butter shortage hits Norway
In Finland, too, some shops may run out of butter in run-up to Christmas
Empty shelves dilemma.
Cities run out of butter.
Butter panic hits Norway!
These are just some of the headlines seen in the Danish and Norwegian press in recent weeks.
The pre-Christmas butter shortage that has been feared to hit Finland looks to have become a worry in other Nordic countries as well.
The situation is worst in Norway, where stores have already started to regulate their sales of butter.
In spite of this rationing, many shops have still run out of the yellow stuff.
And if one manages to get his or her hands on a pack of butter, the price is dear.
In Norwegian online auction rooms, hoarders now sell their pricy possessions for up to EUR 80 per kilogramme.
Towards the end of last week, the Norwegian food supervisory authority warned people against purchasing butter from the black market and from unknown individuals.
According to Norwegian newspapers, not too long ago a Russian individual who was trying to smuggle butter into Norway was caught at the Russian border.
More than 90 kg of butter was confiscated from the person.
The Norwegian Customs suspects that the butter was intended for the Norwegian black market.
The reasons behind the Norwegian butter shortage are similar to those recognised also in Finland.
The demand is suspected of having skyrocketed as more and more people now favour low-carbohydrate diets and organic food.
Furthermore, last summer was rainy and the quality of animal feed weakened. As a result, milk production suffered, reports Norwegian dairy Tine, which more or less has a butter monopoly in the country.
In a wider context, however, Norway’s Customs policy is also to blame, for it makes it practically impossible for the shops to replenish their shelves with imported butter.
“It is too late to ask now”, says Danish-Swedish dairy giant Arla’s communications director Theis Brøgger.
Norway is not an EU country, and the import tariff on butter from abroad has been set at 25 Norwegian krone (EUR 3.30) per kg.
For this reason dairies from other Nordic Countries do not really export their products into Norway at all.
After the butter shortage hit the country, Norway agreed to lower the import levy to a mere four krone per kilogramme of butter, a move that failed to resolve the problem.
“We have nothing to offer at such short notice. Also, from the business point of view such short-term activities are not really worthwhile. Norway has already communicated that the Customs duties will be raised back to normal on January 1st”, Brøgger says.
In Finland butter is still available, but the demand has taken a sharp hike.
“The sales figures would be even higher, if we were able to provide more butter”, explains Reima Luomala, Vice President, Butter, Spreads and Ingredients, at Valio, Finland's leading dairy product manufacturer.
Normally domestic Valio and Arla Ingman’s output is enough to satisfy the need in the entire country.
This autumn, however, butter has been imported for example from Estonia and Denmark.
For the S Group stores, butter is provided for example by the Danish organic dairy Thise, which has imported butter into Finland for the past six months.
The S Group sells organic Thise butter under its Rainbow label.
Thise imports butter and cream into Sweden, where there is a shortage of both items, sales director Mogens Poulsen explains.
Poulsen jokes that in Norway a kilo of butter now costs tens of euros and those selling the stuff are starting to resemble drug-dealers.
“I cannot remember that there would have been a shortage of foodstuffs in the Nordic Countries since World War II and the period of rationing that followed”, Poulsen adds.
According to Poulsen, Thise sells as much butter into Finland as it can.
“The demand has doubled in the past three months.”
Is Finland going to run out of butter just before Christmas?
In some shops there may be days when no butter is available, predicts Ilkka Alarotu, Director, Assortments and Pricing at the S Group.
“We receive butter every day, but not enough. I reckon we could sell 20 per cent more.”
Previously in HS International Edition:
Pekka Puska: Butter boom will blow over soon (30.9.2011)
Butter consumption increases in both Sweden and Finland (29.9.2011)