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Thursday, July 18, 2024

Butter shortage frustrates bakers

Norway’s dairy cooperative Tine hasn’t been able to produce enough butter in recent weeks to meet demand, leaving grocery store shelves bare of one of their most basic items. Consumers are voicing their frustration, especially on the eve of the holiday baking season.

“In this big grocery story, we can’t buy butter,” exclaimed one woman, shopping with her son at a Coop grocery store in Oslo this week. “It’s just incredible!” On Friday afternoon, traditionally one of the busiest shopping times of the week, there was no butter on the shelves at a large Meny store in the heart of downtown.

The problem, according to officials at Tine and its only real rival in Norway, Synnøve Finden, is linked to declining milk production combined with a new “low-carbo” diet fad that’s been prompting Norwegians to stock up on fatty products for months. Now Tine admits it can’t guarantee butter supplies for the Christmas season, prompting retailers to demand the right to import their own butter.

“This is critical,” Tor Gundersen, purchasing manager for Co-op, told newspaper VG. He’s hoping to obtain an exemption from Norway’s protectionist tariff rules to be able to buy butter from foreign sources, since Tine can’t supply the Norwegian butter it’s supposed to provide.

State agriculture officials, however, reportedly have no plans to ease import rules that protect Norway’s dairy industry. They claim that more than half the existing import quota, subject to 25.19 percent import tax, hasn’t been used. Until it is, there will be no tariff relief.

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