The American press has recently reported on the current butter shortage in France, and some fear that bakery-made croissants are facing extinction. Even king cake, a delicacy shared by family and friends every January, is said to be under threat.
Whenever the U.S. media turns its focus to the French way of life, it is important to separate fact from fiction. It is true that the French are the world’s leading butter consumers; its breakfast food, cuisine, and pastries mean France uses 338,000 tons of butter a year — almost 18 pounds per person, per year. But alongside this longstanding national passion, world butter consumption is increasing, driven by changes in diets and the emergence of new markets. In the United States, animal fats previously demonized by dieticians have now been revealed to be good for health. And in China, the population is discovering butter and pastries, which are held as a sign of westernization and prosperity.
Meanwhile, however, the production of milk is sluggish. The 2016 figures in France were mediocre, and mechanized processes have taken hold[...]