Delicious food shortages perfect recipe for viral news
Social media expert says news about shortfalls perfect for sharing, but no cause for alarm
We may love to share them — but stories about looming food shortages, from a scarcity of chocolate to an end to Twinkies, are often overblown, according to one expert.
For example, a recent CBC story about a potential butter shortage has been shared more than 13,000 times.
That makes it a viral hit, according to Jeff White. He's a social media expert and president of the web design and marketing firm Kula Partners.
And he says just like people love to pass around cookies, they also like to circulate stories about delicious food.
"It's one of those stories that's interesting enough to draw attention, and it gives people something to talk about, something to share," he said.
And people don't have to worry about offending anyone when they share such stories, he said.
Butter shortage unlikely: supply chain management expert
But some of us may be reading too much into the headlines, Shawn Way said. He's president of the Supply Chain Management Association of Nova Scotia.
A product shortage simply indicates demand is outpacing supply. More often than not, ramping up production resolves the problem, Way said.
"Will we run out of butter? I hope not," said Way. "I would hope there's enough reserves to anticipate this type of demand increase."
The Canadian dairy industry estimates year-over-year demand for butter has gone up two to three per cent.
"In this situation, I don't see that as being catastrophic," said Way.
The general manager of Dairy Farmers of Nova Scotia agrees. Brian Cameron said customers are not likely to see empty shelves.
But online, the story is often shared in the context of people worrying about running out of butter, particularly as the December holiday season nears, with its attendant shortbread baking.
The butter shortage story joins a long list of other predicted shortfalls that have made headlines over the past couple of years.
Way acknowledges some shortages are more serious than others.
"I'd be more concerned over a natural disaster rather than forecasting prediction," he said.
In West Africa, for example, disease, poor weather and political unrest have all had an impact on cocoa production. Over the past year, that has pushed up the price of cocoa.
And while that creates a headache for chocolate producers, for consumers, it translates into modest price increases.