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Originally published December 17 2011

Butter shortage in Norway leads to $500 a pack price

by Jonathan Benson, staff writer

(NaturalNews) An inexplicable butter shortage in Norway that authorities and the media are blaming on the growing popularity of low-carb, high-fat diets has left the wealthy Scandinavian country scrambling to find other sources of the precious cooking ingredient. After all, the Christmas season is upon us, which means that millions of Norwegians need this natural cooking fat to produce a multitude of butter-rich baked goods that have long been a staple of the Norwegian Christmas tradition.

But it looks like many Norwegians may have to skip the baked goods this year after all, since the butter shortfall is expected to last until at least January 2012. In the meantime, many stores throughout Norway have reportedly had to put up signs explaining why there is no butter on their shelves, which has led to an increase in online butter purchases and even butter smuggling.

Norway has high tariffs that discourage imports of things like butter, which is why some people have been compelled to try to smuggle it in from other countries. Officials allegedly stopped a Russian man at the Norwegian-Swedish border, for instance, who was trying to smuggle nearly 200 pounds of butter from the nearby country.

"Margarine just isn't the same," said one beleaguered shopper at an Oslo Christmas market to the UK's Telegraph. "When you are baking cookies you have to have butter," said another.

Some Norwegians are so desperate to lay their hands on butter to make holiday treats that they have actually shelled out hundreds of dollars to buy a few sticks online. South Africa's Times LIVE reports that some online sellers have been able to fetch nearly $500 for a single pound of butter.

In an effort to bring things back under control during the butter crisis, the Norwegian government has agreed to cut import tariffs by 80 percent until the end of March, which will likely be more than enough time to resume normal butter supply. Butter is very popular in the Norwegian diet, and 90 percent of what is sold in stores is produced domestically.

Since the tariff adjustment, many Norwegians are buying butter from next-door Sweden for far less than the other online vendors. According to Sweden's The Local sellers in the country are offering butter for about $45 a pound, which is still outrageous by most standards.

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