Buttergate: Why are Canadians complaining about hard butter?

Buttergate: Why are Canadians complaining about hard butter?

Buttergate: Why are Canadians complaining about hard butter? Photo

Something is amiss with Canadian butter, according to local foodies, who have been arguing for weeks that their blocks are harder to spread than usual.

These so-called "buttergate" anecdotes have been spreading online, with many Canadians complaining that their butter does not soften at room temperature.

Buttergate began with a question posed on Twitter by Canadian cookbook author Julie Van Rosendaal: "Have you noticed its no longer soft at room temperature?"

Something is up with our butter supply, and I’m going to get to the bottom of it. Have you noticed it’s no longer soft at room temperature? Watery? Rubbery? pic.twitter.com/AblDzGiRQY

Ms Van Rosendaal suggested in a Globe and Mail column last week that a higher demand for butter in the pandemic led to changes in livestock feed, as farmers sought to increase production.

The countrys dairy sector - a major presence in all 10 provinces - determines its production quotas based upon demand forecasts. With more Canadians staying home, demand for butter rose by over 12% in 2020, according to Dairy Farmers of Canada.

Adding palm oil-based energy supplements to cow feed is a decades-old practice said to increase the milk output of cows and increase the milks fat content.

Canadas Dairy Processors Association told Real Agriculture there have been no changes to butter production itself nor national ingredient regulations.

Little research has been done on the true impact of palm oil in dairy, but agricultural experts say butter made from cows fed with palm oil has a higher melting point and, therefore, may be harder to spread at room temperature.

"A Buttergate is not what the industry needs, or what Canadians deserve," wrote Sylvain Charlebois, senior director at Dalhousie Universitys Agri-Food Analytics Lab, in a widely published opinion piece this week that argues most of the countrys butter has definitely gotten harder.

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