If your holiday plans include cookies, pies, and rolls, you may need to rethink your menu. As The Wall Street Journal reports, a national butter shortage is driving up prices at the grocery store, jeopardizing people’s seasonal baking plans.
Like many products over the past year, butter has fallen victim to supply chain disruptions. Milk production decreased in 2022 as costs associated with the work became more expensive for farmers. Butter is made from whatever milk is leftover from the processing and packaging of other dairy products, so it’s the first item affected by the decline. Ongoing labor shortages have also made it difficult for manufacturers to keep up with demand from consumers.
The price of groceries overall has risen by 13.5 percent in the past year due to inflation, but butter has been hit especially hard. A pack of butter cost 24.6 percent more in August 2022 than it did in August 2021, averaging about $4.77 per unit. That’s the most expensive it’s been in five years.
Households that purchase butter every few weeks may not feel the price hike, but it’s expected to become more of a problem in the coming months. As we enter the holiday baking season, retailers will place more orders for butter on suppliers that are already scrambling to meet demand. It’s unclear whether butter sales will spike as usual at the end of the year or whether high prices will keep customers away. The unpredictable market could add more stress to an industry that’s struggling to begin with.
This could be the second year in a row that bakers have trouble finding a popular dairy product. In December 2021, a cream cheese shortage plagued the nation, prompting Philadelphia Cream Cheese to pay would-be customers $20 to not serve cheesecake. Maybe we should start researching dairy-free options for our holiday dessert tables, just to be safe.
[h/t The Wall Street Journal]