If you’ve ever taken a walk through a French bakery or grocery store, one thing will be clear to you: the French love their butter. It is those golden mounds of fatty, milky magic that make French food taste so rich and mouthwatering, what gives French croissants the flaky sheen that makes them a specialty anywhere else in the world.
This year, as foreign markets are demanding more and more butter, France is in the middle of the worst butter shortage since World War II. And no one is more affected by this insanity than French bakeries.
Natacha Butler of Al Jazeera visits a boulangerie in Paris to see just how bad it’s gotten. “The cost has doubled for us, but we can’t raise our prices because the customers won’t understand,” says baker Thierry Adou. “Croissants and pastries are part of daily life here, so if you raise prices, we’ll lose business.”
High butter prices in France are a result of the way that butter is controlled by the government. Suppliers and supermarkets set their prices for items such as milk and butter once a year, locking all connected industries into a price hike that benefits neither bakers nor the farmers who produce the milk.
So stuff your face with as much pain au chocolat as you can, because you never know where that next stick of butter will come from.