Christmas celebrations in Japan could be ruined by nationwide butter shortage

Around 73 per cent of people polled said they celebrated Christmas with a cake

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Christmas celebrations in Japan are not the same without cream and strawberry sponge cake, however the upcoming festivities are being threatened by a severe nationwide shortage of butter.

Grocery shops across the country are rationing customers to one packet of butter at a time and charging inflated prices due to limited supply and very high demand for it five weeks before Christmas, Japan Today reported.

The sponge cakes, which are usually eaten on Christmas Eve, are covered in whipped cream and decorated with strawberries, festive chocolates and seasonal fruit.

An emergency import of 7,000 tons of butter was ordered in May this year after The Ministry of Agriculture, Forest and Fisheries started downsizing the number of dairy cows in 2006 as there was a lack of demand for milk.

Another 3,000 tons were reported to have been brought into the country in September, and the total imports are said to have made no improvement in filling the supply gaps.

Even though Christians make up only two per cent of Japanese citizens, Christmas celebrations have become increasingly popular in the last few decades after it was initially introduced by European migrants in the 16th century.


Christmas is not a national holiday in Japan but a survey found that as many as 73 per cent of respondents marked the occasion with a traditional strawberry and cream cake.

Bakers are dealing with the situation by using margarine instead and hoping that customers and guests do not mind the slight change in taste, until the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) lower tariffs so the US can export more butter to Japan.

In place of butter, Japanese journalist Tamako Sakamoto suggested using cream cheese as an alternative in her recipe for cherry pound cake amid the country's chronic lack of the vital baking ingredient.