Christmas crisis: Sweden set for a winter butter shortage

The last thing anyone wants is for comfort food to disappear as the Swedish winter sets in, but that’s exactly what may be about to happen as two of the country’s dairies warn that there could be a butter shortage in the coming months.

Christmas crisis: Sweden set for a winter butter shortage
Look away now, Swedish butter fans. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Butter producers Norrmejerier and Arla have both forewarned that a shortage of the salty stuff is due to occur over the festive period and into the new year because there simply isn’t enough milk to meet customers’ high seasonal demands.

According to Arla head of press Daniel Emilson, three conditions have combined to make the demand unmatchable.

The first is that Swedish consumers generally eat more food with a higher fat content these days. The second is that the demand for those kind of foods increases in the autumn and winter, and the third is that cows simply cannot produce milk with a high enough fat content to make butter all year round.

“The situation is strained and we expect it to be the same thing as has happened continuously over recent years; in other words, there will be a butter shortage,” Emilson told Swedish newspaper ATL.

Butter blackouts are becoming an increasingly familiar problem during Scandinavian winters. In 2011, the situation in Norway got so absurd that a man in Lillehammer was offered 3,000 Norwegian kroner ($515) for half a kilo of “almost unused” butter.

Things don’t look quite so bleak in Sweden just yet, though Swedes may need to cough up a little more money if they absolutely need butter from a specific brand.

Norrmejerier for example explained that while their standard butter will not be produced again until January, they have plenty of stockpiles of ecological products to last the winter.

“We have an ecological alternative in Norrgott, which is a northern Swedish equivalent of (popular butter & rapeseed oil blend) Bregott,” Norrmejerier press officer Mariann Holmberg told The Local.

There's no need to panic just yet then. Though perhaps it's worth having your fill of Christmas buns and baked goods early in the festive period just to be safe. What's the worst that could happen?