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Disaster Alert: Butter Shortage Threatens Holiday Season

By: Dave Asprey

Brace yourselves: a butter shortage – particularly an organic, grass-fed butter shortage – may be coming our way.  Prudent Bulletproof Coffee users are already starting to stock up long before the holidays, in the event that stores start selling out as Thanksgiving approaches.

Being a butter hacker means that I have deep connections into the dairy underworld. One of my connections, who we’ll call “Deep Udder” to protect anonymity, has informed me that he believes a quality butter shortage is looming. Several other sources concurred.

You know what they say: better safe than sorry when it comes to hormone-building butter!  Here’s what we know so far:

Last Summer’s Drought is Affecting Hay Quality for Cows

Regional weather anomalies may be one large reason for a butter shortage this season.  The Midwest suffered an extreme drought last summer (2012) as well as major rains this past spring (2013), which combined have led to poor hay quality this year.  This in turn has led to lower milk production in the cows in these regions.  “Hay?” you might ask. Grass fed cows are often supplemented with hay when winter prevents year-round foraging.

The carryover effects of this drought have been record breaking and devastating for some regional farms.  We already knew that regional grocery bills were higher due to last year’s drought, but now a full on butter shortage too?  As one dairy supplier source explained to us, “it’s not like you can just add another line on at night – these are cows after all!” Other sources confirm that cow udders can not be modified, although I have a sneaking suspicion that someone at Monsanto is trying.

We can’t know for sure until it happens, but it makes sense to be prepared (for a butter shortage, not add-on GMO udders.)

Butter Suppliers Nationwide are Backordering and Waitlisting

For starters, a prominent butter supplier with pastures in the Midwest told us that not only are they refusing to take on new customers right now, but they are already having trouble fulfilling their larger account orders going into the holidays.  And that their customers are already screaming at them over it.  They said it’s due to a combination of factors, including the growing demand for grass-fed and organic butter, along with the hay, the weather, and the fact that you just can’t increase cows’ capacity by pushing the ‘on’ switch.

Another large supplier in the West with pastures in Northern California  is experiencing a similar crunch.  They said their large-scale holiday season orders are now impossible to fulfill within a few weeks, and they will take several months or more.

Finally, a producer in Colorado said they were experiencing shortages this season as well.

I’m starting to feel like the Butter Grinch is going to steal Christmas. So I contacted our favorite grass-fed butter company, Kerrygold, to learn more.  Nancy McNaughton over at Kerrygold told us that there is no unsalted butter shortage; so our Bulletproof coffee breakfasts are safe for the holidays (assuming we’ll live with the 3% GMO they allow into their cows).  She did say that they are predicting a salted butter shortage due to a worldwide demand spike:

“Because our products are only made from milk from grass-fed cows when they are grazing outside there’s a natural seasonality to Kerrygold Butter production. This year, we have also seen an extremely large increase in global demand for Kerrygold Butter, which is straining our inventory of Kerrygold Salted Butter. We’re doing everything we can to make sure we supply all we can and to ensure that this doesn’t happen again but will not sacrifice our product quality.”

My take on this is that Kerrygold is not expecting to fill in the slack for all the American butter that will be unavailable. We can’t be sure, but why risk it – pick up an extra load of grass-fed butter the next time you’re at the store!

Related Resources on Grass-Fed Butter:

 

  1. Dairy Scientist Shares Ideas for Coping With Dairy Feed Challenges
  2. Grocery Bills Higher Now Because of the Last Year’s Drought