Japan: Where has all the butter gone?
Unfortunately, worldwide food shortages are nothing new. It is not uncommon to hear such stories reported from developing countries, but now wealthier, more industrialized nations are feeling the effects as well.
Japan has run out of butter.
While the news in itself might seem more amusing than tragic at first glance, it is indicative of a global problem that has the potential to snowball, with very serious effects. There will likely be more food shortage crises in the future, and none can afford complacency.
Japan: Where has all the butter gone?
Where is the butter? — cry Japanese consumers who have been hunting everywhere for the dairy product. The drastic reduction in raw milk production, complicated by hikes in the price of grain as well as changes in the global patterns of dairy product consumption, have caused a serious butter shortage in Japan. Empty shelves in the dairy section of grocery stores across the country have not seen a shipment of butter for days, and stores are posting signs apologizing for the shortage.
At an elementary school in Osaka Prefecture, the children's favorite butter-flavored buns used to be served once a week. The tasty rolls were dropped from the lunch menu in February.
Salad oil has also replaced butter in curries and stews.
The changes were not made for nutritional reasons; it was simply because butter was in short supply.
Domestically produced butter is scarce at retail stores because of a shortage of raw milk and higher prices of butter imports.
A shortage of butter for commercial use began to hit cake shops and restaurants last fall. The problem has now spread to homes.
Worse, butter makers are planning to raise retail prices in April, when raw milk prices are set to increase. The move will likely keep butter off more mealtime tables.
Japan is a market pioneer again: the first industrialised nation with no butter
An explosion in grain prices and a slide away from self-sufficiency is causing global crisi. And wealth is no guarantee of insulation.
The manager of the Z-one supermarket, five minutes from Prada’s flagship storeand in the heart of Tokyo’s chicest residential area, shrugs her shouldersand suggests margarine.
Japan, she says apologetically, has nearly exhausted its butter reserves. Whenthe shop will next have any, she whispers, is anybody’s guess.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
So, I guess maybe it's in the papers in the US, but since I haven't reordered the paper here yet, I had no idea. Japan has run out of butter! I wanted to bake come cookies today so I went to the store and there was no butter. I was like, WTF? I went home and host mom said that yes indeed, all the stores are out! So I ended up using margarine and it was just fine, but still. How does a country run out of butter? I looked on-line, since I couldn't understand the Japanese explanation, and I guess it has to do with the rising costs of cattle feed, which may have something to do with the rising cost of wheat, which has to do with several years of bad weather in Australia, combined with China & India getting too freakin' big. So, the dairy industry in Japan is all messed up. And the articles I read suggested that this is only the beginning for Japan in terms of food shortages *doh* I knew wheat prices were up, since the schools took away noodle day (they could no longer afford it), and replaced it with more rice. But they also increased the bread days, and I don't understand how that is using less wheat - but, apparently it does.
I'm not living in Zimbabwe, and this isn't the 1950's.... what's going on? Luckily the new host family grows near 100% of the vegetables they eat - so we won't run out of those anytime soon! But I'm gonna miss butter :(
An empty shelf at a grocery store with a sign explaining that the management does not know when the next shipment of butter will come.