Do you eat butter? Here’s some bad news . . .

PHOTO: Gallo Images/Getty Images
PHOTO: Gallo Images/Getty Images

South Africans won’t be able to have their bread buttered on both sides anymore – butter is simply too expensive!

There’s no end in sight for the butter shortage in South Africa and for now prices will continue to climb.

The demand for butter has become a worldwide problem, says Dr Koos Coetzee, head economist at Milk South Africa.

“Consumers have figured out that full-cream milk is delicious and that the high fat content of full-cream milk isn’t bad for you,” he says.

Coetzee says that international resistance to margarine is growing as people increasingly want organic products that haven’t been processed as much.

“Butter prices everywhere are at a record high. The butter price is now more than R85 000 per ton on the international market. Our prices aren’t that bad yet, but we won’t be paying less for butter for much longer,” Coetzee adds.

Milk production has risen by 1,8% during the first nine months of 2017, food brand Koo has said in a statement. “We see that the demand for butter rose by 5% in 2015 compared to the previous year but then dropped by 2% in 2016. The drop is as a result of high prices and also the immense financial pressure consumers are under.”

Jacques van Heerden, head of legal, secretarial and human resources at dairy brand Clover, is unsure when the shortage will come to an end. “We’re hesitant to import butter because we have very strict quality standards.

“Seeing as we have such a huge shortage at the moment we are now importing butter but only to use in certain final products which will be traded in small quantities,” he says. Jacques says that because consumers now seem to prefer full-cream milk, there isn’t enough cream left to make butter.

The worldwide butter shortage and resulting high world market prices will keep the price of local butter high too, Clover says.

“Dairy Farmers of South Africa [the conglomerate from which Clover buys cream] have started an initiative to produce milk with a higher butter-fat content,” Van Heerden says.

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