French croissants at risk from spiralling butter prices

Bakers warned that a vertiginous rise in the price of butter was reducing their profit margins and threatening an entire industry.
Bakers warned that a vertiginous rise in the price of butter was reducing their profit margins and threatening an entire industry.PHOTO: ST FILE

Paris (AFP) - Could the very existence of croissants in France be in danger?

Bakers warned on Tuesday (June 13) that a vertiginous rise in the price of butter was reducing their profit margins and threatening an entire industry.

The price of butter, which makes up a quarter of the ingredients of many French pastries, rocketed 92 per cent in the year to May, according to Mr Fabien Castanier, the general secretary of the federation of French biscuit and cakemakers.

The rise was putting "unsustainable economic pressure" on the industry, he said.

"Based on the current price, the extra charge annually is around 68 million euros for makers of biscuits and cakes," he said.

"Unfortunately the situation is going to get worse in the next few weeks with a strong risk of butter running out."

Mr Matthieu Labbe, a bakers' industry spokesman, said: "There is a real threat of butter shortages by the end of the year which could lead to panic on markets."

The industry bodies are calling for responsible behaviour from supermarkets, cafes and restaurants, which should pass on the rise in the price of butter to shoppers, to avoid causing additional suffering for producers.

The consequence would be that "the price the consumer pays for croissants, tarts and brioches is going to rise significantly very quickly".

The rise in the price of butter is blamed on falling milk yields in Europe, and especially in France, coupled with rising demand both domestically and internationally.

At the same time, French farmers complain that they are receiving less for their milk than it costs to produce because Europe has a glut of 350,000 tonnes of powdered milk, which is depressing prices.