Import restrictions eased to spread butter

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The Norwegian market needs as many as 1,500 more tons of butter than what’s available from Norwegian producers, so the state is lowering the high, protective customs duties placed on foreign butter. That means more butter from places like France and Belgium may be on local store shelves soon.

Norway slid into a highly controversial butter “crisis” last autumn, when national dairy cooperative Tine failed to produce enough butter to meet demand. Tine, the country’s so-called “market regulator,” also failed to warn of the looming shortage early enough, so foreign butter was kept out of the country far too long and grocery store shelves ran empty on the eve of the holiday baking season.

Tine, under orders to do a better job if it’s to continue enjoying its market protection, thus asked state agriculture officials to lower the tariff barriers from September 1 until the middle of October, reports news bureau NTB.

“This means that all players who want to, can import butter at lower tariffs,” Tine officials wrote in a press release. Demand for butter continues to rise in Norway at a time when milk production is falling, but Tine now feels confident it will ward off a butter shortage this year.

Views and News staff