Bakery owners have stopped selling pastries or are tearing their hair out to make them because of the shortage of precious butter that is affecting all of Quebec.
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“It’s just gone crazy right now,” chuckled Julie Robertson, owner of the Fleur de Farine bakery in Saint-Alexandre-de-Kamouraska.
His small business, located in Bas-Saint-Laurent, has lost half of its turnover for three weeks. The guilty ? A shortage of butter which forces her to completely stop preparing and selling her pastries.
Bakery owners have stopped selling pastries or are literally tearing their hair out to make them because of the shortage of precious butter that is hitting all of Quebec. In this photo: Benoît Fleurant and Julie Robertson of the Fleur de Farine bakery in Saint-Alexandre-de-Kamouraska Photo credit: Courtesy
“The butter we use in baking is the most precious. You even need a special permit to be able to buy it in Quebec. It is a product that comes from Europe. It is fattier, has less water and resists heat. It is perfect for pastries,” explains Ms.me Robertson.
Private several months
The owner of the Fleur de Farine bakery specifies that Quebec butter or that found in grocery stores is not designed to make quality croissants or chocolatines.
“For now, we are still selling our bread. We no longer make pastries without tourage butter because otherwise, our products will not be as exceptional”, explains Julie Robertson.
Benoît Fleurant and Julie Robertson, from Boulangerie Fleur de Farine, pose in front of their empty shelves.
The latter does not foresee any return to normal before September.
“At least we own the building and we save costs like that,” she sighs.
Nicolas Neron, from Boulangerie Obsession in Châteauguay, mentions that he has to “get by” without his precious butter for the first time.
Pierre-Paul Poulin / Le Journal de Montreal / QMI Agency
Nicolas Neron from the Patisserie Boulangerie Obsession shop. Pastries in Quebec are suffering from a shortage of a precious butter to make pastries… A big mess at the moment. Châteauguay, May 18, 2022. PIERRE-PAUL POULIN/LE JOURNAL DE MONTRÉAL/AGENCE QMI
“All our suppliers of this butter have reached the quota limit that can be exported from Europe to Quebec. The problem also is that we don’t make any of this product here. So we put a little flour in our butter [normal] and it works, but it’s not the same thing and it really requires more work,” laments Mr. Neron.
The pastry chef also mentions that due to the shortage, some of his peers are now making croissants using margarine or oil.
“In the end, it tastes different, the smell is not the same and it is not the usual quality”, criticizes Nicolas Neron.
Tourage butter from here?
He also invites local businesses to create a “Made in Quebec” butter in the future to prevent pastry chefs from once again facing a shortage.
“I think we could easily make this butter at home and stop depending on exports with a quota from Europe. Especially since we have a lot of dairy producers here and we throw tons of milk in the trash every year, ”concludes the pastry chef.
Unheard of in over 25 years
One of the main distributors of tourage butter in Quebec claims to have never witnessed such a shortage for this product in more than a quarter of a century.
” This is unheard of. You could say it’s unfortunate, but it’s out of our control. It’s the first time I’ve seen this in 26 years in the business,” says Daniel Dubé, buyer for the distributor Farinex.
The latter says that Canada is entitled to a certain number of kilos of tourage butter imported from Europe each year under trade agreements.
“Me, at Farinex, I have already reached my quota limit that we can receive and distribute. We will not be able to have any before the next opening of the contracts which will take place in August 2022, ”sums up Daniel Dubé.
But why didn’t the shortage come before?
“There are more and more pastry chefs entering the market at the moment. It must also be said that more traders now want lathe butter. We still have the same quota, but more customers. That’s why we lack it,” says Mr. Dubé.
The latter adds that the shortage of many food products during the pandemic has certainly not helped.
“With the stock shortage for several goods, there may be some who have ordered more butter to not run out and others have less because of that too”, he assesses .
Julie Robertson, of the Boulangerie Fleur de Farine, denounces that it is the smallest traders like her who suffer the consequences more.
“Clearly, the big companies have anticipated this and they have stockpiled their laying butter which they order every week. But we, the smallest players, we knew nothing and we ran out of this product without any warning, ”she laments.