The reign of butter has returned since it was proven that is healthier than margarine. There is already a shortage of butter in Europe, its price has doubled, along with the price of other dairy products. There are a lot of opportunities unused in Hungary in the field of butter production, but as vg.hu reports, measures have been taken.
The wholesale price of cream and butter is at a ten-year record and has even doubled in the past one year. The reason for this – argues Zoltán Harcz, the managing director of the Hungarian Dairy Products Council (Magyar Tej Terméktanács in Hungarian) – is the shortage of milk in Europe. The shortage is a result of the 2015 liberalization of the milk market by the European Union, which also wound up the milk quota system, thus the prices have fallen. The falling of the prices was hard on milk producers, so most of them gave up their businesses. Brussels had to react quickly: a voluntary reduction of production was introduced, and compensation was paid to those farmers who have given up on production. As there is a shortage of breeding heifers in Europe, it is hard to replace the stock. Even though it was easier in the case of fresh milk, it takes much more time in the case of those plants producing fatter milk.
Hungarians don’t buy much butter, it is the French who are more keen on it: on average, a person eats 8 kilos of butter a year. German people consume almost the double of the EU average as well, with 6 kilos eaten by a person a year. The EU average is 3,8 kilos, about which Harcz said that butter is becoming more popular in Hungary, but Hungarians still consume less than the average: a person eats 1,6 kilos a year.
With the price of the butter, the price of other dairies rises too. According to the data gathered by the Research Institute of Agricultural Economics, this is already a reality in Hungary. The price of the Hungarian port salut’s price has risen by 30 per cent compared to last year, the price of the sour cream by 15 per cent. The reason for this is that Hungary needs imported cream to produce greasy dairies. The Hungarian cream is not of good enough quality so it’s rather used for sour cream than for butter.
The Hungarian producers advise the dairy-farms to better the milk’s chemical composition by proper feeding. Bettering the fat- and protein content of the milk is of priority, as these are its most important components. In the Netherlands, the milk contains 4.2 percent fat on average, in Finland 4.3, while in Hungary, only 3.6. Harcz argues that the farmers not spending enough on feeding is justified, as the purchase price in Hungary is much lower than the EU average.
However, the latest price growth has given a good direction to producers and processors. It was about time, as there was practically no development in butter production in Hungary, as cream is used primarily for sour cream – butter is not considered an elemental dairy. A lot of butter is imported, mainly from Germany and Ireland, but this might change in the next two years.
The development of the butter processing technology has already started last year in Hungary. The Hungarian raw milk is characteristically white and not yellow, so the butter produced from it is very appealing. This bright and pale colour is sought-after on the market, especially in the Middle East, but the quantity is not enough. Thanks to the new developments, the situation will change: in two years time, there will be enough premium quality, spreadable Hungarian butter – said Zoltán Harcz.
Sour cream is the most popular in Hungary out of all the European countries. It is indispensable for the Hungarian cuisine, it is eaten with stuffed cabbages, lángos, chicken paprikash. Both butter and sour cream are made from cream, the difference is that sour cream is prepared by pickling, while butter by churning. As the main ingredient is the same, when the butter becomes more expensive, it will be favoured over sour cream by the producers, since it is more profitable.