Nicolas Chatel takes away a piece of butter as Pierre Chatel stands behind him at the market in Marly le Roi, west of Paris. Photo: Michel Euler/AP
France is running short of butter, with some supermarket shelves sitting empty and the price of croissants on the rise, creating a headache for the government just as it tries to make the food chain fairer for farmers.

The shortage is the result of falling milk production and rising butter demand globally, with consumer attitudes towards the spread, once shunned as unhealthy, turning more positive.

As a consequence France has been caught short.

Soaring prices and reduced dairy supplies have put strain on producers and food businesses, with some halting deliveries and considering passing higher costs on to retailers and shoppers.

Makers of baked goods like croissants, in which butter makes up around a quarter of the content, have been grappling with a doubling of butter prices in the past year to record levels above 6 (R100) a kilo.

European dairy processors and food industry groups have been warning of a squeeze, with Danish-based co-operative Arla Foods saying in August that the continent might face shortages by year-end.

Supermarkets in the capital and others parts of France have left gaps in their butter sections, with some stores displaying signs explaining a shortage of certain brands.