Across Canada, people at breakfast tables are struggling to spread butter. Normally cooperative at room temperature, sticks of the beloved dairy product have become hardened globs that mutilate toast. Some on social media have dubbed it “Buttergate.” And they’re demanding answers.
According to the BBC, Twitter has been abuzz with reports that butter isn’t softening after being removed from refrigeration. Cookbook author Julie Van Rosendaal wrote that “something is up with our butter supply, and I’m going to get to the bottom of it.” Others have described the Canadian sticks as “rubbery.” The inconsistent consistency has raised alarm among Canadians, with some theorizing that the coronavirus pandemic is to blame.
How is that possible? In Canada, demand for butter rose 12 percent over the norm in 2020, an increase in demand that was attributed to more people staying home and cooking more. With that demand, Buttergate thought leaders say, dairy farmers increased the amount of palm oil supplements being fed to livestock in order to increase their production and keep costs down. Agricultural experts argue that cows that are fed palm oil can produce milk that results in butter with a higher melting point, turning it into a relatively harder substance even after it’s been sitting out on a table.
Canada’s Dairy Processors Association has refuted allegations that any untoward dietary changes have occurred. The Dairy Farmers of Canada group has promised to look into the complaints.
Until there's resolution, concern may continue to spread.