Calgary butter producer Foothills Creamery can't keep up with demand

"If you want some butter for Christmas, you better go get it," said the founder of Foothills Creamery, which is turning away business because it can’t produce butter fast enough.

Butter demand means Alberta may have to import dairy from overseas

Barb White says she was at Safeway, Sobey and Walmart in her area of south Calgary and Co-op was the only store with butter on the shelf. (Barb White)

Foothills Creamery produces about five million pounds of butter a year, but that's not enough to keep up with this year's demand.

"Foothills Creamery has turned down about $3 million in business in the last three months because we just can't get the supply of cream or butter from the Canadian Dairy Commission," said Don Bayrack, the president and founder of the Calgary company.

Bayrack says those ingredients usually come from Eastern Canada.

But a recent spike in demand for butter — partly fuelled by the health craze around fat — means Alberta may have to import dairy from the U.S., New Zealand and Uruguay.

Bayrack estimates it will take until April for things to get back to normal, but says the backlog is already taking a bite out of his business.

"We don't sell a lot of ice cream in the winter time so butter is the mainstay. And then when you haven't got it, yeah, that really hurts for sure."

CBC Calgary has heard of shortages in both north and south areas of the city. ( Barb White)

Butter shelves 'half full'

Bayrack says sales are up about five per cent and consumers are already feeling the looming butter shortage.

"I know there's one Walmart store in Calgary, my friend was just there, and for the last four days they haven't had any butter on the shelf at all," he said.

"Most of the butter shelves are half full right now."

So if you're planning on doing some holiday baking, you may want to start stocking up.

"I'd say if you want some butter for Christmas, you better go get it," said Bayrack.

The founder of the Calgary-based Foothills Creamery says 'most of the butter shelves are half full right now.' (Caroline Wagner/CBC)


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