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Which nation eats the most butter? Hint: it’s not France

Jude Infantini on Unsplash

Cooking and baking at home has become part and parcel of my COVID-19 experience; it entertains the kids and reduces the number of trips to the shop.

Yet this seemingly harmless activity involves using butter, and lots of it. But hey, as they say, butter could be good for you and it’s experienced a resurgence in the USA for about six years.


So who’s most smitten with the luxurious, cholesterol inducing spread?

There’s no doubt Europe and North America are home to a large number of butter aficionados, but it’s New Zealand that tops the list of kilograms consumed per head of population.

According to the OECD kiwis eat 25kg of butter per person per year, which is in excess of 10 times more than most nations.

This is an article from New Zealand ringing the alarm bells about reaching 20kg per person in 2011.

Again according to the OECD, New Zealand is also by far the largest exporter of butter in the world, which may partly explain the addiction.

Astrid Madsen via Canva. Butter and knife vector by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay; Pancake vector by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay; Croissant vector by FoxTierDesigns from Pixabay; Cow vector by grafikacesky from Pixabay

The full list of regions and countries that consume more than 2kg per head of population, according to the OECD FAO Agricultural Outlook 2019-2028 (Table A.31.2), is below:

Per capita consumption in kg (average 2016-2018)
New Zealand25.8
European Union4.0
United Kingdom2.8
United States2.6

New Zealand also topped the Italian dairy consulting firm CLAL‘s chart but with a more ordinary 5.89 kg per capita in 2018.

But like the OECD statistics, CLAL lumps the EU in one category with an average figure.

A website that includes individual European countries in its “world butter consumption ranking” is World Atlas and it argues France tops the chart with 8.2kg per capita while New Zealand comes sixth with 5.1kg per capita. However, there are no references so it is unclear where this information comes from.

Statista, meanwhile, also ranks France in top position for Europe at 8kg per capita with the EU28 averaging 3.8kg per capita in their ranking. This website requires that you pay to get their data source.

What about Ireland? Despite being a key European producer, the country doesn’t indulge as much as you might expect — the average seems to be around 3kg per capita.

That statistic is for the year 2011, so the current figure could be higher considering that butter is now viewed more than favourably.

As for the year 2020, COVID-19 could very well increase all of these numbers… that’s if the home baking Twilight Zone persists.

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