Butter prices have soared by as much as 53 per cent due to dairy shortages and increased demand from shoppers.
Recent studies concluding that butter is not a ‘bad’ food after all have seen families forgo margarine and low-fat alternatives.
The success of shows such as The Great British Bake Off has also seen shoppers rekindle their love for butter as they try their hand at home baking.
But it comes after a collapse in dairy prices last year saw many small dairy farmers in the UK and elsewhere sell up or switch to other types of food production – meaning there is not enough milk, cream and butter to meet customers’ demands.
The wholesale price of butter is up by 88 per cent in a year, according to analysts Mintec, and this has fed through to supermarket shelves.
Manufacturers of butter-heavy foods such as shortbread, croissants and pastries are also being forced to raise prices. It has seen some cake and processed food firms looking into switching to cheaper alternatives.
The price of Tesco’s slightly salted 250g English butter block has risen 53 per cent to £1.30 in the past year, The Grocer magazine found.
A 250g block of Asda’s Smart Price salted butter is 35 per cent more than a year ago at £1.08.
Meanwhile Waitrose has increased the price of its 500g salted block butter by 43 per cent to £2.38 and Sainsbury’s 250g salted Scottish butter block is up 27 per cent to £1.24.
Other brands have also seen substantial increases, with Country Life’s 250g unsalted butter block up 14 per cent and Lurpak’s slightly salted 250g block up 9 per cent, giving an average price of £1.47 and £1.57 respectively.
As well as prices of butter itself, Tesco’s All Butter Shortbread Fingers recently went up from 59p to 75p – an increase of 27 per cent.
A single all butter Sainsbury’s croissant is up from 55p to 70p and a pack of four all butter pain au chocolat from Morrisons is up 8p to £1.33.
Mintec analyst Michael Liberty said: ‘Prices got so low in 2016 and it was not profitable for farmers to make as much milk. So, they started to cut back on their dairy cow numbers.
‘Butter supplies are now really tight across the whole of Europe and the UK, so anyone trying to buy butter is struggling and they are having to pay a higher price just to reach a contract for it.’
A US study published last year found eating butter had no effect on raising heart disease. It followed years of warnings from health professionals to stay away from it.
Ali Loughlin, an analyst at Kantar Worldpanel, told Foodnavigator.com: ‘The trend for more natural, less processed products has led many Britons to move away from margarine and other low-fat alternatives – butter is no longer viewed as wholly ‘bad for you’, but rather part of healthy balanced diet.’
Mike Kruiniger, research associate at Euromonitor International, said: ‘Butter is very much benefiting from the trend towards more natural products. Consumers are becoming increasingly weary of processed foods and products that claim unrealistic health benefits.
‘As a result, they opt for more natural products as they believe that these are generally healthier.
‘In addition to the healthier image of butter compared to processed products, butter has also benefited from the home baking trend generated by shows such as The Great British Bake Off, and the fact that butter is seen as a more indulgent option.’
Source: Daily Mail