Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Worrying rise in price of butter as demand outstrips supply is food for thought for farmers, retailers and consumers

There is an old saying that shrewd people know on which side their bread is buttered, but it seems that even this ounce of wisdom may not carry weight due to the current shortage of butter.

This is caused by a rise in demand for the product as well as a dearth in milk to make it, with the result that a 500g block of butter selling for £1.74 last year is now costing as much as £4 - a hefty increase. While butter is usually in or out of fashion with health experts, it has remained a constant presence on many tables across Northern Ireland.

It is now deemed by some experts that butter in moderation is not a health risk, but the price will certainly cause concern to those who shop carefully on a fixed budget.

Low prices for milk have put many farmers out of business, which has led to falling supplies.

The price of cream - churned to make butter - has risen substantially, while demand for the household staple has also risen significantly. Some people believe that the popularity of The Great British Bake Off has helped boost demand for butter.

There is a delicate balance to be maintained. Farmers must get a fair price for their milk, but consumers must also be satisfied that they are paying a fair price in supermarkets and other outlets.

The price of items such as cakes and biscuits, which use butter in their manufacture, is also likely to rise, and this may threaten the viability of other producers who need butter for their goods.

The producers and the retailers have to ensure that there is a fair balance between prices for the farmers and others, as well as for consumers.

The reality is that neither side can have their cake and eat it, with or without butter. This is a basic situation in which the producers, the retailers and the customers are being given much food for thought to find the best way forward for everybody.

Belfast Telegraph

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