The Norwegian Butter Crisis

Christmas will be here before you know it, and it remains to be seen what impact inflation will have on celebrations this year. It’s important to remember that you don’t need a pandemic or inflation to ruin Christmas — sometimes all you need is butter..........or a lack of butter. In 2011, Norway — one of the richest countries in the world — ran out of butter! Supermarket shelves were bare, and it couldn’t have happened at a worse time of year, when Norwegians like to do a lot of baking. There were a lot of different factors that lead to the butter crisis. A surge in the popularity of high-fat, low-carb diets had led to a 30% increase in demand for butter. Of course, the media played a role, too. When the media announced a shortage, people began rushing to stores to stock up. We saw the same thing with toilet paper at the beginning of the pandemic. Another factor was the cold, wet summer Norway had in 2011. That meant the grass the cows normally graze on wasn’t growing as well as it should. If cows have nothing to eat, they don’t make milk, and without milk, there’s no butter. Finally, Tine Coop Dairy Conglomerate — responsible for 90% of butter production in Norway — continued to export butter abroad, even when it knew there was an impending crisis. Slowly but surely, butter started to become readily available again in early 2012. This Christmas, in a time of global uncertainty, let’s raise a glass to the Norwegians and be thankful we have butter.