The Butter Boom

Nov 20, 2020

Betty Crocker would be proud to learn of 2020’s favorite pandemic pastime.

Quarantine cookies, breads, and baked goods have consumed a lot of Americans’ time, and apparently a lot of butter.

The USDA shared that production rose 6% in the first nine months of 2020 and is tracking to hit two billion pounds.

Last time we saw that much butter in America? 1943.

And as the dairy industry was in the dumps [literally, dumping milk] as schools shut their doors and food service demand dropped, butter became a bright spot.

One winner from this boost in butter use? Land O’Lakes. Their Q3 profit ballooned and CEO Beth Ford expects butter sales to be up +20% for 2020. All this even as the company saw big drops in the 15-20% of sales they normally receive from restaurant businesses.

“That’s a significant increase in our butter business,” Ford said. “That strength is more than offsetting the disruption [to the business-to-business dairy sales].”

+ No storage needed: In another strange twist to 2020, butter storage and inventory is nonexistent. As butter production ramped up during peak milk-producing summer months, most inventory went straight to grocery stores instead of heading to storage for the holiday season.

Oh, and this… Butter’s leap in demand was more than just a baking binge. Butter is a gem for food marketers. Clean label? Check. Keto-friendly? Check. This and more kept folks beelining to the dairy aisle.

Crunch time: Butter has had a great 2020. But as COVID-19 cases surge, the holiday baking season is at risk as swapping Christmas cookies could be a no-go.