The cost of butter has skyrocketed so much that it's now as cheap to buy butter made in France, despite that European country's butter shortage.
For the month of May it cost $4.80 for a 500g block of butter, up 29 per cent from $3.73 a year earlier, according to Statistics New Zealand's food price index.
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At one Auckland supermarket, the price of French-made butter was $4.00 for 400g - compared to the New Zealand-made product at $4.99 for 500g.
Fonterra head of farm source Mark Robinson said prices were at an all-time high.
"Butter prices are at all-time highs in the global market which is good - it's a sign of good things - but it doesn't necessarily reflect the entire market because butter is just one of the products you get from a bucket of milk," he said.
Robinson told NZ Herald Focus the sky-high prices were due to the global standard set in the wider market.
"We need to set our prices based on what we can sell our product for abroad because otherwise you would question why wouldn't you just go and sell it abroad," he said. "Our model in New Zealand is export-driven and that's not just dairy, that's all of agriculture, so we rely on our global markets to set the price in New Zealand and that's for a lot of things not just dairy, beef and lamb."
High butter prices were good for farmers and the dairy industry, he said.
"It's been a tough couple of years in the dairy industry with some low prices, and globally low for dairy, which obviously drives our milk price down which means that farmers revenues are severely impacted but we've been steadily climbing out of that recently, and we've now got a milk price forecast of $6.15 and a forecast for next season of $6.50, so those numbers alone mean that farmers are smiling a bit more than they have been."
ASB chief economist Nick Tuffley said the price of butter could increase still.
"Over the last month we have seen that the wholesale price of butter has continued to rise so we perhaps haven't seen the full retail affect of that come through yet," Tuffley said.
"What we are seeing is a global phenomenon. Butter is a globally traded product and the price is getting pushed up by the fact that consumption is lifting around the world and the supply is struggling to catch up at the moment.
"We have a commodity price index that goes back to 1994, this is by far in a way the highest price on that index, so that's filtering through on a retail level as well."
Ninety five per cent of New Zealand's dairy products are exported.
Tuffley said butter prices had doubled in world markets in the last year and that New Zealand would do well in export earnings due to the surge.
In France bakers have warned the high price of butter was slashing profit margins and threatening the industry, The Guardian reported.
"There is a real threat of butter shortages by the end of the year which could lead to panic on markets," Matthieu Labbe, an industry spokesman, told The Guardian.
The Guardian reported industry bodies were calling on responsible behaviour from supermarkets and cafes in regards to prices they charged shoppers.
Increases in the price of butter are being blamed on falling milk yields in Europe.
Food prices in New Zealand rose at their fastest annual pace in more than six years this month. Vegetable prices jumped 31 per cent in May from the same month a year earlier, with broccoli and kumara prices more than doubling, lettuce prices up 76 per cent, and tomatoes rising 34 per cent.
- additional reporting BusinessDesk.