Norwegian Bakery Gets By During Butter Shortage

Dec 14, 2011
Originally published on December 14, 2011 5:12 pm
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LYNN NEARY, HOST:

Here are some of the essential ingredients needed for a very merry Christmas - a tree beautifully decorated, presents lovingly wrapped, delicious cookies made with butter. Unfortunately for Norwegians, that last ingredient is very hard to find these days. There's a serious butter shortage. Most Norwegians blame stiff trade barriers imposed by the country's powerful dairy cooperative, TINE. But TINE says dairy output is down because of a rainy summer and demand is up as a result of the popularity of a low-carb, high-fat diet.

To find out how Norwegians are coping with the butter shortage, we reached Lovisa Morling. She works at the Apent Bakeri in Oslo, Norway.

Good to have you with us.

LOVISA MORLING: Thank you.

NEARY: So, does your bakery have butter?

MORLING: Yes, we - actually we do have butter, fortunately.

NEARY: How did you get it? How does the bakery get the butter?

MORLING: The bakery gets the butter for a couple of weeks ago, I think it was. TINE, the only producer of butter in Norway, called us up and said unfortunately we can't deliver butter to you this week. And then my dear boss, who also started the bakery 13 years ago, got a little bit upset. And I was glad I was not in that room that day. And then he said, over my dead body. And when they suggested margarine, he just exploded. And since then there's not been a problem for us actually.

NEARY: But wait. So what did he do? I mean how is he getting it? Just - is it on the black market? Or...

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

MORLING: The thing is that of course there is some butter to get hold of. And the supermarkets and the regular stores, they are out of butter. But there are some butter, but it's hard to get. And, you know, some customers get it and we are fortunate to get it. So we have never had any problems.

NEARY: All right, so your bakery has butter. But how about your friends, people you know, relatives - do they have butter?

MORLING: No, they don't have butter. But, of course, people are going to Sweden to buy butter. And there is kind of like a black market now for butter, which is absolutely absurd. And yesterday, a Russian guy got caught in customs trying to smuggle Danish butter. So, yeah, that's how it is.

NEARY: And who do people hold responsible for this butter shortage?

MORLING: I think everybody is kind of, you know, all this low-carb, high-fat, everybody thinks that's just rubbish. I think it's actually that, you know, they have - somebody made a big mistake. They exported too much of the milk and of the cream that's used. You know, actually, last week, we exported a huge amount of milk to the United States so you can make your Jarlsberg cheese, which is Norwegian. So there is - somebody made a big mistake

NEARY: So we've got your butter over here, huh?

MORLING: You do, so we're coming to get it someday.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

MORLING: We hold you responsible, actually.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

MORLING: You'll get a very, very upset Norwegian crowd coming over someday soon.

NEARY: Well, what about the holidays coming up? Obviously people can go to your bakery and get cookies if they want.

MORLING: Yeah, they can.

NEARY: But a lot of people like to bake. Is this putting a damper on the holidays?

MORLING: I think everybody think it's so absurd, you know. And people I found laughing at it 'cause it's so, you know, one of the richest countries in the world, Norway, can't calculate to get butter to Christmas. So, I think people are a little bit stunned. And, of course, people cross the borders to Sweden. There, you know, the big supermarkets start to import from Holland and Belgium, and so on.

But, of course, since the customs are so high here, you have to pay so much money to import stuff - so really expensive butter. But, you know, Christmas, you want to have butter in your cake, you buy expensive butter.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

NEARY: Well, thanks for talking with us, Lovisa.

MORLING: Thank you. You're welcome.

NEARY: Lovisa Morling works at a bakery in Oslo. She was talking about Norway's butter shortage.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I LIKE BREAD AND BUTTER")

THE NEWBEATS: (Singing) Well, I like bread and butter. I like toast and jam. That's what my baby feeds me. I'm her loving man.

CHORUS: (Singing) He likes bread and butter and he likes toast and jam. That's what... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.