The summer drought has reduced milk production and risks disrupting the production of dairy products in the coming months, in particular butter and cream.
Are we going to run out of butter and cream soon? After the historic drought that affected France this summer, the presence of dairy products could be scarcer on supermarket shelves. Because, in the meadows, the grass is no longer green: the pastures have suffered from the dry spring and then the successive heat wave episodes. Dairy farmers no longer have enough grass to feed their animals, forcing them to fall back on provided forage reserves for winter weather or to purchase feed.
Added to the summer drought is the increase in production costs. Already the price of animal feed, necessary to make up for the lack of fodder, but also fertilizers to grow fodder and fuel to run agricultural machinery. The price of milk is also rising, but not enough for farmers to compensate for the high production costs: calls to raise the selling price of milk to €1 a liter in supermarkets have multiplied since the beginning of year.
fewer dairy cows
Faced with this equation that is difficult to solve, some farmers choose to get rid of some of their animals to reduce costs and make some money, sending cows that are still of productive age to the slaughterhouse. Other producers, in the worst case, may also simply abandon breeding. Fewer dairy cows means less milk production and therefore less milk available for the food industry. Especially since cows produce less milk during heat waves.
A situation that weighs on the production of butter and cream. The tension is high in dairy fats, driven by the growing demand worldwide, and despite the fact that milk stocks have been falling for several years due to the lack of renovation of the farms (the drought only aggravated the phenomenon) . The giant Lactalis, owner of the Lactel and President brands, mentioned to the magazine the risk of shortages 60 million consumersalso evoking a milk with less fat due to a poorer animal feed.
“The collection of milk in spring usually allows the production and accumulation of large stocks to compensate for the usual fat deficit in the second half of the year,” a Lactalis spokesperson explains to the magazine. “Never, at the beginning of this second part of the year, have butter stocks been so low. So we can expect a very serious shortage.”
scarcity instead of scarcity
The president and general director of the National Federation of the dairy industry (Fnil), François-Xavier Huard, however, wants to be reassuring: you should not expect completely empty shelves in supermarkets. Still, production risks being interrupted by this lack of milk. Dairy manufacturers “will probably make trade-offs between dairy products, depending on availability and price,” explains the head of Fnil, which brings together dairy companies. But it is difficult to say today what these compensations will be.
“We should talk about scarcity rather than scarcity. We will not run out of butter and cream, but there may not be as many quantities and as diverse in the ranges as usual”, stresses François-Xavier Loon.
There are reasons to fear compulsive purchases by certain customers in the event of less availability of butter or cream in stores, recalling the “sunflower oil” effect of spring linked to the war in Ukraine. Some consumers, fearing a possible shortage, had made precautionary purchases to store bottles at home, an excessive consumption that had aggravated the temporary shortage of sunflower oil and emptied the shelves of some supermarkets, convincing other consumers to do the same.
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