Disaster Alert: Butter Shortage Threatens Holiday Season

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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:


Click to read the complete list of references.

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By Dave Asprey

  • James D Miller

    Won’t a lower supply translate into higher prices rather than a shortage?

    • Luis Arauz

      Either way, stock up now!

    • We’ll probably be OK in the new year, though — that’s when everyone starts to eat heart-healthy lowfat diets with plenty of margarine to make up for the gluttonous butter binge of Christmas …

  • Jaber

    Curious: What’s the lowest price you’ve seen KG unsalted? It’s $8/lb around here, when I can find it (and I wipe them out each time). Want to know if I should make a daytrip and raid a city.

  • blue21

    In Australia the cheapest butter you can buy is grass-fed by coincidence! It says it no where on the labeling but it’s homebrand from safeway

  • Hilary Salmon

    I live in New Zealand… feel free to contact me and we could discuss arranging shipments 😉

    • mo

      I’m curious. Do you have a 100% grass fed farm and willing to ship to U.S.?

      • Aaron Lucas

        YES! American Government doesn’t want NZ products in their country because their farmers can’t compete with ours.

  • Michael Sheppard

    Good to know about the unsalted, because that’s basically all I use (BP coffee), but Whole Foods didn’t have any last weekend, and I panicked. First world problems, sure, but still…as Bulletproof everything gains momentum and popularity (which it seems to be doing, but then again, I mainly have been listening to related podcasts and like-minded individuals, which admittedly could distort my view of reality), I wonder if this will become an issue, and/or how long it will be before companies start lying (or “supplementing”) their grass-fed cows’ diets with other crap that we don’t need to be eating.

  • Frederick T Schurger Dc

    I have been using Smjör butter in favor of Kerrygold (but grab that too) which many Whole Foods seem to have in stock. I find it’s actually a deeper yellow, and I just prefer the flavor. My local health food store (I’m 2 hours away from the nearest Whole Foods in St Louis) can’t get unsalted Kerrygold or Smjör, but they carry Kalona butter, which is out of Kalona, IA. The taste is different, but it’s good either way. Luckily I just found out I access to grass fed raw milk and butter (which apparently isn’t illegal in IL, but the big companies are working against that), and I’m going to try that shortly!!

  • Yo Gurt

    The preppers where right.

  • ChristineLm

    I have 18 pounds of grass-fed butter in the freezer.

    • Frederik Emil Hanfgarn

      Then you are awesome. Congratulations! 😀

  • Servaas

    Hey everyone, here in Belgium Kerrygold butter is a household name. Available in every (regular) supermarket. Soft, unsalted, grass-fed butter. Just bought 3 packs of 200 grams for the upcoming winter months.. keep up the good work bulletproofexec!

  • Steve

    Just got a call from the store. My order of 24lb is ready to pick up. Took a few weeks to fill the order. When I placed the order I was told that there was a shortage of organic cream in Quebec where my butter comes from. Damn Canada and no Kerrygold availability.

    • Ruth Shipman

      I’m in Quebec too. Is your butter from grass fed cows? If so, what is the name and where do you buy it please?

  • The really funny thing is that over the past couple of weeks the price of Kerrygold at my local Wegman’s dropped from $4.49 a block to like $3.19 or something. On top of that, the grass fed beef is only $4.99/lb in the club packs. I was beginning to think somebody at Wegman’s is Paleo/Primal/Bulletproofing it up and I was worried it won’t last!

  • Ben

    I have to say when I started using MCT oil and butter in my coffee and lots more butter otherwise than I used to, I still had the lingering suspicion that I might gain weight (old habits and beliefs die hard). After doing it for a couple of months I can confidently say that I have not gained any weight, and I’m feeling good!

    • Skilluck

      You can’t gain weight from eating healthy fats.

      • Ben

        Yeah well theory and practice are 2 different things…and seeing the effects in myself beats the knowledge of “you can’t x” any day

  • Skilluck

    Will this effect UK butter supplies? I only have 4 sticks left

  • My wife and I are going to be temporarily moving to Vancouver, BC for 4 months (Dec 29th – May 6th). Any suggestions on how to to get grass-fed butter while we’re there?

  • Terrance Steere

    I’m going to buy as much butter as I can afford this weekend for $3.50 a pound so I can sell it for $10 a pound in January 😉