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‘Scariest thing is happening for us bakers’: Professional baker warns of a butter shortage, says Sam’s Club was completely out

'People don’t see the manufactured shortages if it does not [affect] them.'


Jack Alban


Posted on Oct 23, 2022

If you’re making food in large quantities that require large quantities of “standard” ingredients like flour, sugar, butter, milk, heavy cream, and eggs, then bulk retailers like Sam’s Club are your best friend. That’s because the steep discounts on larger quantities of these products can ultimately save you a lot of money in the long run and it helps to reduce the need to constantly travel back and forth to the store.

Typically, these items don’t have a long shelf-life compared to dry goods and other products designed to last longer outside of a refrigerator, but if you’re a baker churning out high volume orders, oftentimes your fridge won’t be fully stocked with these items for very long.

However, what’s a baker to do when they head to a bulk retailer and find that these products have completely disappeared from the shelves? That’s what professional baker and TikToker Rebecca McBride (@batchpleasecookieco) experienced while visiting a Sam’s Club Texas location in search of butter.

For McBride and many other bakers, the sight of a store completely out of butter seems like a nightmare scenario, something intoned by the music in her now-viral TikTok.

@batchpleasecookieco No butter anywhere is going to hault my business. #butter #buttershortage #baker #cookies #cookiedecoratingvideos #baking #foodie #food ♬ Spooky, quiet, scary atmosphere piano songs – Skittlegirl Sound

In the clip, McBride shows an empty shelf; the negative space is where mounds of butter bricks should be at a Harlingen, TX, Sam’s Club location she visited on Oct. 14.

“Scariest thing is happening for us bakers – no butter is a problem” the caption reads, and another text overlay in the clip says, “That would be ZERO butter at Sam’s. Lovely.”

According to Supply Chain Dive, there’s been a marked decrease in the amount of butter available for consumers at stores and it appears that some retailers, like the one that McBride frequented, are seeing the effects of this.

CNBC also reported that supply chain woes have reached dairy-based food as well. The outlet writes, “As we enter the holiday baking season, one key ingredient will be harder to find: butter,” and its scarcity is also driving prices up as well. Meaning that even when customers are able to find some, being able to afford the same volume of the cream-churned product as they did previously will be a tall order: “the lack of supply is already driving prices up.”

This could be directly attributed to a marked dip in milk production across the United States according to 2022 analytics from the USDA. The same report indicates that a variety of environmental aberrations are responsible for the dip in milk, and therefore, butter productions are to blame: “extreme temperatures, floods, droughts, along with frequent and intense storms” ultimately put a stranglehold on butter deliveries.

While some TikTokers mentioned that more expensive brands, like Kerrygold, were still on the shelves, others remarked that even more affordable offerings shot up in price. Other users said that they didn’t have a problem finding butter at the retail locations they shop at, like Costco, which wasn’t of any help to McBride, as she says in another video she doesn’t live near that particular chain.

Some folks who responded to McBride’s post told her to simply make her own butter, but for the volumes that professional bakers churn out product, this wouldn’t be a feasible workflow, McBride claims in the same video.

“Not all of these non-bakers telling us to just make the butter,” one user wrote.

“I work for a school as a cook and we were warned to stock up on butter. I thought they were exaggerating,” another shared.

“My Walmart has been out of unsalted for a month!!” a customer wrote.

In a follow-up TikTok video, she states that the Harlingen Sam’s Club did re-stock butter, however, there was a price increase.

@batchpleasecookieco No #buttershortage this week at least! #samsclub #butter #buttercream #cookies #augarcokies #cookiedecorating ♬ Love Of My Life – Metrow Ar

Judging from the comments on McBride’s TikTok it seems that food shortages depend on the area and according to her Instagram, she’s located in the Lower Rio Grande Valley in Texas.

The Daily Dot reached out to McBride via Instagram direct message, where she spoke about her experiences shopping for baking supplies. She said that she and other professional bakers have been “watching the butter issues closely along with several other dairy products” as “random shortages can throw a kink in the process.”

She did say that while she was able to procure butter on that particular day at a local H-E-B mart, she wasn’t able to get the 30 pounds she initially intended and that she had to purchase it a $4.89 a pound, a marked increase from what she was used to purchasing it for at Sam’s Club, which is currently listed at $3.70 per pound online.

McBride continued that this was the first time she’s ever experienced a shortage of butter.

“I have not encountered this with butter before. Last holiday season, it was Confectioners Sugar that was nearly impossible [to find] in which I resorted to my family shipping it to me as they are on the east coast and had access to it,” McBride told the Daily Dot. “There has also been an issue with Brown Sugar and Granulated sugar in the past few months.”

The Daily Dot has reached out to Sam’s Club via email for further comment.

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*First Published: Oct 23, 2022, 12:25 pm CDT