Norwegian butter supplies dip, prices spike, during high-fat diet mania

Norway's supplies of rich creamery butter have bottomed out as a result of a national high-fat diet mania. I assume the diet is also low-carb but I'm not sure -- the article says that the butter shortage is causing trouble for families planning to do traditional (high-carb) Christmas baking. Perhaps the low-carbers caused the run on butter, and everyone else is feeling the pain?

Butter is now selling on Norway’s top auction website, with a 250-gram piece starting at around $13, roughly four times its normal price.

Just weeks before Norwegians will be expecting to eat plenty of buttery traditional biscuits and other homemade Christmas treats made with love and the liberal inclusion of dairy products, residents of the world’s second-richest per-capita country can’t even hope for help from a friendly neighbour who is rolling in butter.

Top dairy producer Denmark lies just across a narrow sea channel, but its stores of creamy butter will be kept out of the country by the high import duties of Norway, the only Nordic nation that does not belong to the European Union.

Norway needs butter now (via Making Light)

(Image: Lamb butter, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from quinnanya's photostream)


  1. As a health-conscious person who uses a stick of butter a month, on the outside, my first thought was “lol,” but I must say that the thought of Christmas baking with shortening instead of butter makes my blood run cold.

    1. I couldn’t buy shortening to save my life here. We don’t even have a word for it (seriously). If you run a cookie factory, yeah, you’d probably use it, but it’s not sold in grocery stores. If you need fat that has the consistency of butter, you use butter (and maybe margarine), period. Lard used to be common about 100 years or so ago but has pretty much disappeared.

    1. Not too far from truth. In the 70’s, ‘fat’ was bad…so they replaced butter with Margarine and promoted it as ‘healthy’ even tho it was later discovered to be far worse–with it’s hydrogenated oils, and trans fats.
      Mc Donald’s fries were fried in “Beef Tallow Fat” in the 70’s they replaced that with yet again trans-fat oils, and now are replacing that with canolia and other so called ‘healthy’ oils.

      Now, that’s all been proven to be bunk as ‘fat’ isn’t the problem…fucking about with natural fats is a problem. Butter is good and some people are going back to Lard (non-hydrogenated lard)..and duck fat for frying. It’s the so called ‘healthy’ things you eat (I”m talking healthy junk food here, not a carrot)..that are a problem…you think you’re eating healthy because of a claim on the box, or a nutitrition spec, but’re still eating junk. Give me a steak and and fries in beef tallow oil or duck fat and I’ll eat a small portion and be happy…give me a ‘low fat, transfat, HFC product’..and I’ll still be hungry…and want more soon.

      1. Duck fat?
        There weren’t available smaller animals? Like quails? Or hummingbirds?

        I like my sausages deep fried in hummingbird far!

        1. Ducks aren’t really that small and they’re fairly fatty, so you can render a lot of fat from just one duck. (And you wouldn’t want to waste it — it’s liquid gold.)

          1. Yes, it truly is liquid gold.  So is goose fat.  Whenever I cook these beautiful animals, I make a large pot of confit with the remains, and then use the preserved meat and fat sparingly for a long time, probably 6 months.

        2. If you roast a goose, you get something like a gallon of extremely tasty fat. Last time I did it, all my German friends were EXTREMELY happy to receive pint jars. They spread it on toast . I think that is a little extreme, but using it to make confit, or french fries, is a very good idea.

  2. Huh. I thought that the typical Scandinavian diet was already pretty fatty. I had a Norwegian friend who said that there was a saying back home (“smør på smør”) that pretty much meant “gotta butter that butter”.

    1. i guess all the single subject diets (be it all fat, all carb or all protein) hinges on the idea that the human body will convert one to the other with a accompanying loss of efficiency. And then that lost efficiency should then result in reduction in reserves (what body fat in essence is).

    2. Simple Carbohydrates are the most  accessible energy source for the human body.  It takes the fewest amount of calories to digest them. By switching the body to fat and protein as energy sources it is more difficult to extract the energy from your food sources. 

      When you are exercising there is also an added benefit of reduced insulin production. Insulin sensitivity is linked to fat gains.

      I eat a pretty normal north america diet now but for a while I switched out carbs for protein, fats and veggies.  Keeping around the same calorie count and activity level, I’m pretty active. I was able to visibly loose quite a bit of body fat.

      Then again I still ate carbs, mostly in the from of oats and whole grains like brown rice, carrots. 

      I wound up with a loss in overall endurance though. That may have been because I was doing it to a bit of an extreme. I now have a nice layer of belly fat(no more six pack) and shaved a minute off my mile time and increased my daily run distance to 8 miles.  

      I also felt healthier. Veggies instead of bread makes sense. Butter instead of bread does not.  If they are still eating refined carbs in any significant amount  (90 g +) the combination of carbs + fat is a GREAT way to gain weight. 

      That is my personal experience and my 2 cents. Low carbs does work.

  3. Pshaw, that’s nothing. Here in the States, you can’t find even one store with Daddy Butter in stock.

  4. butter is a superfood. i eat it like cheese, thick hearty slabs of it on whole wheat sourdough toast. so good. good for your thyroid, your heart, your bones, your brain, boosts your immune system, helps to prevent cancer.  all from a product you can make in a field with a jar.  earth balance? factory processed, industrial spread that’s as bad as butter is good. stockpile butter while you can!

    1. “Eat it like cheese?”

      Meaning never, rarely, or once every few weeks if pressed, but in small quantities? I’m a bit unclear on what you’re saying here.

      Butter, cheese, and sourdough make me sick. Of course, butter and cheese, like any high-fat or high-protein foods, cause nausea and sometimes vomiting. But I’m not sure why sourdough causes me so much trouble, it doesn’t seem to cause everyone trouble.

    2. Dude Earth Balance is by leaps and bounds the best vegan butter substitute there has ever been in all of history.

  5. A Christmas wish: that advertising copywriters would learn to use the word creamery correctly. It does not mean “really super oh my god it’s so good creamy.” A creamery is simply a place where butter is made, therefore all butter is creamery butter and it is redundant to call it that.

    1. I’m pretty sure what the marketing team means is, “wholesome, delicious butter, artisanally hand-paddled into unctuous perfection by a buxom milkmaid named Olga… as opposed to our competitor’s brand, which is concocted at Satan’s infernal hellkitchen out of the rendered adipose tissue of former Goldman Sachs employees and yellow #5.”

    2. In Norway the phrase «meierismør» («dairy butter») is used to specify unambiguously that the product is indeed butter. «Butter» itself is used quite loosely in common vernacular including margarine. Maybe that leaked over into this article.

  6. First of all, Norway is in the European Economic Area and as such we are inside the EU protectionism barrier, however we ourselves impose high, protectionist import duties on agricultural products as part of a policy intended to keep a local agricultural sector which could otherwise not have any hope of competing with low-cost countries. As we have previously done in regards to other products where local supply has not met demand (one example off the top of my head includes the lowering of import duties for roses following the Utøya massacre), the import duties have been lowered and the government expects the butter imports to be more than adequate in time for Christmas.

    Our agricultural sector could not totally dishonestly be described as one of the world’s few remaining planned economies, with the farmers’ cooperative Tine being the majority player in the dairy product market, which sets quotas. (There are other manufacturers competing with Tine in a free market, but Tine sets the farmers’ quotas. Not quite sure about the specifics.) Personally I think that there are good reasons why it is that way; the main reason is a political desire to maintain a well-distributed, decentralised population. It seems a majority of the political milieu in the country believes so, too. Secondly, yeah, our traditional diet is quite fatty, however a combination of a bad harvest and a 20-30% spike in demand due to the low-carb diet fad has caused shortages. 

    The online auction is largely a joke. My local store has had butter much of the time. And I use margarine, anyway :)

    1. And all this is being used by the right wing talking heads to hammer home the message of “free market good” any chance they get (to the point of the non-national broadcaster setting up a “soviet style” butter queue in the capitol).

  7. Gosh darn it! I’ve noticed Norway popping up in BB articles a few times over the past year, and each time it is over some stupid thing.
    Truly, there are a few non-stupid things about us too.
    I have high hopes for BB coverage in 2012! :-D

    1. Oh come on! You guys are number one in, like, every ‘least crappy country’ list. Now you want to conquer BB too?? 

      I kid ;)  As a Canadian, I’ve been waiting for you guys to take us over (we ought to be a Nordic country too). What’s taking so long? We have butter!!

  8. Same thing is happening in Finland! No butter to be found in local supermarket. It’s getting pretty crazy..

  9. This article is so badly researched… Firstly, Norway is not the only Nordic country that’s not in the EU, Iceland is also not. If you really want to be picky, you could also mention the Aland islands, they are not part of the EU. Whatever.
    The other thing is that this lack of butter and butter prices is part of a pan-Nordic country shortage of butter, making up some story about this being due to Norwegian diet trends is just making up stuff without bothering about the big picture.
    Boingboing is just brainlessly picking up a bad article, I don’t really blame you BB, just don’t keep doing this. Please.

  10. Oh my…

    1. Yes, there is a shortage of butter in Northern Europe; even in EU countries. The reasons are anyone’s guess. Word on the street is that it’s caused by a move away from “healthy” margarine towards butter combined with generally strong demand during the Christmas season.

    2. Norway levies import duties of about €3/kg on butter. While this would certainly make butter more expensive, it would still be affordable and certainly better than having no butter at all. The EU as a whole produces way too much butter and could certainly export some of it to Norway. This is a logistical problem; farmers, dairies, importers and retailers just didn’t anticipate the increased demand. Changing suppliers takes time.

    3. I didn’t know Iceland (a Nordic country) was an EU member. But hey, welcome!

  11. Protectionism ranks just below ‘hey baby, why don’t we bring another girl into our bed?’ on the all-time list of “Ideas that Sound Awesome but Never Work Out in Real Life.”

  12. Meanwhile in Sweden, the high fat diet craze has cause mayonnaise shortages.
    Majonnäs: it’s good for you!

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