By now a lot of people in the world have heard – and laughed about – Norway’s butter shortage, covered in many international media. One of the best ones is The Colbert Report, making fun of it all. Which Swedes tend to appreciate a lot, as long as the joke is at Norway’s expence…
During the period leading up to Christmas (with all ts baking of buttery cookies and buns), we have seen our Scandinavian neighbours in the West becoming increasingly desperate for the dairy fat, with prices as high as about 100 Euros per kilo butter and people trying to smuggle large quantities of butter to Norway from Sweden, hoping to sell it on the black butter market.
We may be laughing heartily at this here in Sweden, but the (maybe internationally less known) truth is that Sweden had its very own butter shortage during the autumn. In September and October, dairy shelves in many parts of the country suddenly stood empty, with signs saying “Butter shortage because of lack of primary products”.
The reason behind this sudden hole in the Swedish butter basket has been said to be a declining national milk production, together with the “low carbohydrate high fat” (LCHF) diet trend, which has boosted the consumption of fat dairy products. Another clue might be that the main dairy company in Sweden, Arla, started paying farmers less for their milk in September (article in Swedish, autotranslated here)
Now the Swedish butter shortage is said to be solved, by a higher import of milk as primary ingredient for other dairy products. But there are of course questions to be put after this autumn. Swedes are among the highest consumers of milk per person in the world (Number 4, after Finland, Iceland and Ireland.) We’re also number 9 in the EU when it comes to eating cheese. Shouldn’t we be able to be selfsufficient on these products? Or are we maybe eating too much of it, considering that milk production has quite a large climate and environmental footprint?