New Luxury Item: Butter?

Price hits all-time high amid surge in demand
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 1, 2014 8:20 AM CDT
Updated Sep 6, 2014 3:32 PM CDT
New Luxury Item: Butter?
A sculpture made from nearly 1,000 pounds of butter pays tribute to dairy farm families at the Pennsylvania Farm Show.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Will American shoppers soon be saying, "I can't believe I can't afford butter?" Butter prices hit a record high on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange this week, and with the levels of the stuff in storage down 42% over this time last year, "Americans are about to be reminded that butter is a luxury," according to Quartz. Butter's price has surged 62% this year, notes Bloomberg, and demand keeps going up: US consumption of the commodity has reached its highest level in 40 years as consumers turn toward natural foods instead of processed ones like margarine.

"Ultimately, there's good demand for cream-based products that’s tightening up the market," a broker explains to Bloomberg. "We haven't had a tremendous amount of milk to deal with either, and the quality of fat in milk has gone down." But in the heart of dairy country, an analyst for the University of Wisconsin-Madison predicts prices will start going down again when businesses have finished stocking up for the holiday season. The price of butter "is not going to stay up," a sixth-generation Wisconsin dairy farmer tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He says that the high prices now will allow dairy farmers to get through tougher times like 2009, when farmers were paid less for milk than it cost them to produce it. (Some people have started putting butter in an unusual place—their coffee.)

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