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The price of Butter

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18 replies to this topic

#1 Carlovski

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 06:28 AM

There is a discussion on the 'have your say' board on the BBC News website on banning butter (Insanity if you ask me!)Have your say.
Interestingly there are a lot of comments along the lines of 'I don't buy butter, but mainly because I can't afford it'.
I personally find it rather odd - i know I'm in a relatively privileged position, and don't have to worry too much about the food bill, but the difference in price between butter and margarine isn't that high (Well in the UK at least), surely? How much are people using?
I do remember, as a kid, that butter was considered to be a luxury item - my Mum still refers to it as 'best butter'. Did butter used to be (relatively) more expensive?
i guess if you are making lots of sandwiches for kids etc then the price difference could make a dent in the weekly budget - especially for families on low incomes, but the tone of some of the posts implied that it was more widespread than that.
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#2 Chris Amirault

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 07:56 AM

What are the prices for butter and margarine in the UK? I will check supermarket prices here next time I go: I don't buy any margarine so I can't compare yet. Butter runs about $3.50-4.00/lb, usually.
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#3 jk1002

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 08:16 AM

Up to 2007 there was a massive butter surplus in the market in the European Union - it was called Buttermountain - the EU actually guaranteed prices and stored the butter. I think going rate in Germany is still way less then a Euro - I noticed how expensive Butter is in the US when I came here.

#4 David A. Goldfarb

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 09:24 AM

Butter has been pretty cheap here in Queens, New York recently. Normally it's around $3.50-4/lb, but before Christmas one place had it at $1.50/lb (I had freezer space for 4 lbs), and another market this week had it at $2.50/lb with a customer loyalty card. I've seen ordinary supermarket butter get up to $5-6/lb occasionally over the past few years, and at some of those times, premium European butter has actually been cheaper. Usually European butter is $6-8/lb in New York, with the occasional fluctuation.

Edited by David A. Goldfarb, 18 January 2010 - 09:25 AM.

#5 CanadianBakin'

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 09:35 AM

Here in Western Canada I think the cheapest stick margarine you can get is about $4.00 for 3 lbs whereas the cheapest unsalted butter you can get is $3.70/lb so it's a big difference. We make the sacrifice and only use butter.
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#6 rooftop1000

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 10:10 AM

I just checked at my local store in NJ
a 3 pound tub of store brand Margarine (vegetable oil spread) 1.99
45 ounces...almost 3 pounds super premium cholesterol lowering 6.49
major brand Butter on sale 2.49 pound

I bought 2 pounds of butter, 20 yrs ago my Doctor said Maragarine wasn't food

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#7 Chris Amirault

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 01:20 PM

Similar results here: Stop n Shop has store brand margarine at $0.89/lb, and Land o Lakes at $1.69. Meanwhile, butter is $2.69/$2.99 respectively.
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#8 paulraphael

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 01:53 PM

The commodity butter I buy is whole foods' house brand. $2.69/lb. The cheapest at my local supermarket is much more expensive.
For some things I go for the European butters or farm butters from upstate or Vermont. These cost more than double the cheap stuff.

#9 Dianabanana

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 03:43 PM

Well, it didn't used to seem expensive, until I decided that I no longer care to use any but Organic Valley Cultured Butter, which runs about $5.65.

#10 IndyRob

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 04:08 PM

My current shopping goal is around $1.79/lb for utility butter in Indiana. I think that's very low compared the last 5-10 years. Similarly, milk seems to be about 30% lower.

I gladly pay over $5/lb for President butter from Normandy, but I only use that in specific applications.

But it would be interesting if someone could find an average adjusted price per decade. I've always been under the impression that butter has always been close at hand, but perhaps that might be a rural thing (and perhaps why one seems to find the better pies out in the country).

#11 David A. Goldfarb

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 04:28 PM

Hasn't there been something in the news in the past year about the price of milk and dairy products being generally depressed, making it harder for small dairy farmers?

Here are a couple of recent articles--



Maybe we should be wishing for higher prices. When I can, I've been buying milk and cream from Milk Thistle (http://milkthistlefarm.com/), a small producer of organic milk from Jersey cows that is sold at the Union Square and other Greenmarkets in NYC. The milk is of higher quality than even organic milk from the supermarket, so they seem to be able to set their own price without too much regard for the commodity price of milk. I've made butter from the cream, and it was excellent, but at $14/lb, I don't think I'll be doing it very often. I just made a batch of ice cream from the cream with only cream, milk, raw cane sugar, eggs, a pinch of salt, and no vanilla or other flavorings, and that I might be making more often, even if it is a bit pricey.

Edited by David A. Goldfarb, 18 January 2010 - 04:32 PM.

#12 Blether

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 04:53 PM

In Tokyo supermarkets the price of butter has come down in the last year or so, and now sits at JPY330-420 or so for 200g, that is about USD6.50-8.50 per pound.

Before that, it pretty much sat at the JPY330 level for quite a long time, then there was a spike for nearly a year when it wasn't a given that there'd be any in the market and it was going to cost you JPY450 if there was.

A few years ago there was a scandal when the biggest brand, Snow Brand / Yukijirushi was caught mixing dairy products other than fresh butter (was it skimmed milk powder or the like ?), into its butter. IIRC, Snow has government links and as far as I can make out, the bureaucrats in charge of dairy farming took a grand flounce and simply slashed the country's dairy herds. Sorry, I've not the time right now to go back and review the reports properly - anyone who knows better, please feel free to enlighten me. The Japanese dairy industry is also protected by significant tariffs on imports (butter: 30% plus JPY1200 per kg ?).

Margarine... sorry, I haven't really looked at prices. I might care if I baked more.

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#13 JTravel

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 05:00 PM

For quite a while Wegmans' own brand of butter has been $1.69 a pound. All baking was done with butter over the holidays but then I mostly use butter anyway. I think margarine is $.89 a pound and up.

The newspaper today had a story of how milk prices in NY State are rising. That is good news for farmers who are getting less for their milk than it costs to produce. They are now getting near the "break even" point of production.

I would expect the price of butter will be going up along with the price of milk....but customers have had it cheap here for quite a while.

#14 lancastermike

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 06:39 AM

One of my local markets is selling Keller's butter for .99 a pound this week as a special item.

#15 nakji

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 08:13 AM

Before that, it pretty much sat at the JPY330 level for quite a long time, then there was a spike for nearly a year when it wasn't a given that there'd be any in the market and it was going to cost you JPY450 if there was.

I remember this; I paid 700 yen one week to get 250g of Danish butter because it's just something I couldn't do without. I'll eat less of it, but I won't switch to margarine - I just can't stand the taste.

In China I buy imported butter. The cheapest is Westgold from New Zealand, at about 25 RMB or ~$3.60 USD for 250g. When I'm feeling flush, I buy Lurpak or President, at ~5.20 USD for 200g - I much prefer the taste of European butter. I assume that Australian and New Zealand dairy herds have significantly different diets, which affects the taste of the butter. Or the product is shipped poorly. Either way, I find the European butters nicer.

#16 KarenDW

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 11:21 PM

The "regular" salted butter I use most often is $3.49/lb, but sometimes will be available for $2.50/lb. My margarine of choice (if there was really a choice... I don't use marg) is $3-4/lb. So, basically the same price as butter. And really, margarine is only a couple of molecules away from plastic :hmmm:
But, as a kid growing up in the 60s/70s, margarine was about 1/3 the price of butter. And then in the 70s, butter was the "evil fat", while margarine was mostly "polyunsaturates" and therefore the spread of choice.
WRT sandwiches for kids... we didn't even bother w/ butter/marg, and went straight to peanut butter and jam.
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#17 helenjp

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 11:30 PM

Westland Milk Products make Westgold sweet (non-cultured) butter as well as Westpro Lactic, which would be closer to Lurpak, but still more strongly flavored than a northern European butter. I have never seen Westgold, which I notice doesn't claim to be made from fresh cream, but it is certainly true that NZ dairy cows eat grass/hay/ensilage/other root or leafy crops much more than pellets or other feed.

Also, Lurpak is a cultured butter...totally different taste from any sweet butter. If I had the money and the opportunity, I'd buy cultured butter over fresh (=long periods of cold storage) butter too...and I'm guessing that cows from Hokitika are a wild lot anyway!

#18 fairfranco

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Posted 20 January 2010 - 08:18 AM

I live in the channel Islands and wouldn't buy anything but our lovely creamy butter.

The prices are pretty regulated on all of our dairy things with all of the milk being the same price (now allowed occasional special offers I think). 95pence for a litre of milk.

Price of butter for 250grams I think is around £1.20.

As the question of which butter or cream I purchase doesn't come into question I accept the cost that both come at.

#19 Carlovski

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 06:19 AM

I think the original BBC discussion was based on a misquotation, as they changed the title of the topic to be about trans-fats.
In the UK butter in supermarkets tends to be around £0.90-£1.20 for a 250g pack, not a lot of variation, even between 'basics' and premium brands. No idea about buying in bulk, or about Margarine for that matter.
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