Starved For Butterfat

BUTTERFAT, THE KEY INGREDIENT IN ICE CREAM, CHEESE, AND BUTTER, is currently in short supply, and prices are responding accordingly. "Everybody is holding their inventory," says Robert Prosi, a board director at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. So spot prices at the MERC's butter market have surged 73% this year. Why the pinch? Unusual ice cream demand due to early summer heat is one factor. And the government subsidized the export of 40 million pounds of butter over the past year, further cutting supply.

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