Sacre Bleu! France Is Experiencing a Shortage of its Most Essential Ingredient

Sacre Bleu! France Is Experiencing a Shortage of its Most Essential Ingredient

Try not to panic.

By Aly Walansky

Breathe. We'll get through this together. But we need to talk about something important: The ingredient perhaps most central of all to French cuisine — apart, perhaps, from wine — is now in short supply.

Federation des Entrepreneurs de la Boulangerie, a group representing France’s baking industry, has revealed that butter has recently nearly doubled in price. In April 2016, butter ran about €2,500 per metric ton, or about $2,800. But now, it’s around €5,300 per metric ton, or nearing $6,000.

What will this all mean for croissants... and Francophile tourists traveling abroad in search of a fine specimen of the pastry staple?

“A croissant is composed of 25 percent butter,” Armelle Favre, a spokesperson for the industry group Federation des Entrepreneurs de la Boulangerie, told The Daily Beast. “And butter,” she added, “accounts for half of a croissant’s costs.”

But it’s worse than just a matter of price: The high price of butter is related to its limited supply overall. Powdered milk production is down, and that means there’s less fat available to make butter — no matter the cost.

Climate change may be a factor here as well: Cows are making milk that is lower in fat, and that's impacting the amount of butter that can be created and sold.

So, right now paying more for buttery croissants is actually a best-case scenario. Another, more foreboding possibility, is that those brioche and cakes will be harder to come by, period... or made with butter substitutes, such as (gasp) margarine.

Mon dieu!

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