Saturday, May 03, 2008

butter shortage (update)

(This is what I thought I understood...I could be wrong as Japanese isn't my mother language...)

On the news the other day they mentioned why butter was scarce. The majority of the raw milk goes for milk, then cream, then to cheese and lastly to butter.

The butter that is available is going to cake and bread makers, which leaves the average household out. In fact, the bread makers have complained that the cake makers are hogging up most of the supply.

(This is the part that is making me mad...again, I could be wrong...) At one point, milk was in excess because consumption was down and so they threw it away, tons of it! Then the feed cost rose, which made some dairies go out of business and kill off their animals!

And now we are where we butter. The government said the other day, "maybe we should up production?"...(um, there is no butter, what do you think?)

A couple weeks ago, the government reduced the gas tax, and brought the price of gas way down. People began hoarding. Well, today, they found a river filled with gas. A factory that hoarded gasoline, "realized" that they bought too much and just dumped it, 4000 liters (I think) into a river! (I was trying to find the accurate number but couldn't.)

This reminds me of a couple years back when there was a surplus of Chinese cabbage. Since the farmers didn't know what to do with them, and no one wanted to put out the $$ to take it off their hands, the farmers just shredded them up with their tractors! This in turn made the price for Chinese cabbage go through the roof.

I think this country is wasteful, more than is actually talked about.

UPDATE: the supermarket that I shop at has brought in some salted and unsalted butter. The salted butter is "cheaper" (379 yen for 200g...about US$3.79) than the unsalted one (399 yen for 200g...about US$3.99). Though the price was still quite outrageous, I bought one salted and one unsalted. At the check-out, the cashier grabbed the two and rang it up as 2 unsalted butters. I stopped her and pointed out that the two were different. She apologized profusely, 20 yen is 20 yen. (I think a lot of people don't like to stand behind me at the check-out, because I'm always pointing out price errors.)


OkiHwn said...

Yah, the butter situation in Japan is confusing. I read about the killing of cows but because of a lack of consumption? Shibai! The latest I've read about is the Government is thinking of raising the price of butter to lower consumption. A strange situation.

$3.79 for 200 grams of salted butter is outrageous! I bought salted butter for $1.89 for a 1 pound package (unsalted buttter is the same cost) of US stuff at the commmissary. At the cost you said you paid, you're paying over $8 a pound.

K & S said...

you are very lucky that the commissary is charging American rates for the butter, Nate. At least now, I have some butter to bake with :) even if it is really expensive.

Take care.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm... How interesting. I guess I take butter for granted and never imagined that there'd be a shortage of it anywhere.


jasmine said...

The butter prices you are quoting isn't too far off what I pay in Canada!

Cannot believe that company dumped all that petrol...I hope they got severely fined or something.


K & S said...

I think there may a lot of foods that we all take for granted, Paz.

Gosh, that much in Canada, Jasmine?? I think they did get fined. I hope they had to help clean it up too.

Take care you two.

Monique said...

We (people from HK) tend to think that Japan is such a 'paradise', it's an eye-opener to read about the reality of it.

K & S said...

It is for the "right" people, Monique. There are a lot of news items the government doesn't allow out of the country.

Take care.

Pandabonium said...

I don't use butter (or margarine). The reason for the shortage is the move in the USA to use crops for ethanol so that they can keep driving gas guzzling cars. The dairies in Japan buy feed - wheat, soybeans, corn - from the USA and guess what? It costs twice what it used to. Thus, no butter.

I also noticed that packages of sliced cheese which used to have 10 slices now have only 8! All so Americans can keep on "happy motoring".

K & S said...

That is sad, PB! I didn't know that. Thanks for sharing.

Murasaki Shikibu said...

When you remove the comments about the gas guzzling Americans, Pandabonium's summary is probably the most objective one I've seen. This appears to be the core reason and the other factors are just exacerbating a problem that is already there.
New articles like to make it sound like the weather and Fukushima are the reasons for this but hey - this post was made in 2008!

K and S said...

yeah Murasaki Shikibu, this year there are expecting another butter shortage because of all the milk that they cannot use (because of high radiation) from the cows in Fukushima.

Take care.