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European butter mountain

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  • European butter mountain

    I was browsing some community photos from the 80's the other day and one showed people queuing up to get butter from the European butter mountain. It sparked a memory as I remember my nanna getting some, but I don't know much else about it. Was it free? Was it only available to pensioners? (most of the people in the photo looked elderly)and why was there an overload of butter?
    1976 Vintage

  • #2
    Re: European butter mountain

    I can remember my gran getting it as well, cheese as well as butter, probably around 1984-6. As far as I can remember it was free to pensioners and in plain packaging. Presumably there were more dairy products being produced than were needed within the EEC so a certain proportion was withheld from the market to maintain production quotas/prices and protect farming incomes. I think there was a 'wine lake' as well!

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    • #3
      Re: European butter mountain

      Originally posted by Trickyvee View Post
      and why was there an overload of butter?
      Because consumers had switched to using margarine.

      The CAP was formulated for society and economy of the 1950s, when there were food shortages in Europe, with an emphasis on mass production of basic staple food products like butter and grain. The idea was to put cheap, but not necessarily cheerful, food on everybody's plate. A combination of lower than predicted population growth from the 1950s to the 1980s; production that emphasised quantity over quality; and changing consumer tastes had resulted in large food mountains and lakes in the 1980s. The then European (un)Economic Community was a lethargic elephant still wedded to its 1950s ideas for a 1950s society and struggled to adapt to the change.

      There was also an olive oil lake but it was drained by finding new markets for olive oil in northern European countries like Britain. That's why olive oil has gone from an almost nonexistent product in 1980 to a supermarket staple by 2000. The same with the wine lake although part of the problem was too many vineyards producing cheap plonk whereas consumer tastes had moved more upmarket.

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      • #4
        Re: European butter mountain

        There was a Grain Mountain that was used for famine relief.
        The Trickster On The Roof

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        • #5
          Re: European butter mountain

          I think it was for the elderly too
          sigpic
          Do you really believe the other side without provocation would launch so many ICBM's, subs and ships knowing that we would have no option to launch as well? It would break our MAD Treaty (Mutually Assured Destruction) not to mention the end of the world as we know it.

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          • #6
            Re: European butter mountain

            My mother said there was once NPO (Non Profitmaking Organisations) brand butter taken from the EEC butter mountain that was sold at low prices to educational institutions and council run care homes. I can't seem to find any pictures of the packaging.

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            • #7
              Re: European butter mountain

              In the 80s my parents were on our local parish council as independants. Around 1987 or so give or take a couple of years they were given boxes of EU butter to distribute to pensioners. I remember they set up a day to receive the butter and then distribute it. Pensioners would come to our house and would take away a packet of butter. I think my parents took packets to the homes of pensioners who had trouble with mobility. I seem to remember it being in plain packaging with EU--or maybe it was still EC back then--on it.

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              • #8
                Re: European butter mountain

                Apparently it was given to those on benefit as well as pensioners. There was also a beef mountain and as a result free tins of EEC stewed steak were distributed a few years after the butter and cheese. I can remember my gran getting these as well, plain white labels with EEC branding. She gave my mum a can - the tins may have looked cheap and nasty but the meat inside them was absolutely delicious.

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                • #9
                  Re: European butter mountain

                  You could well be right about those on benefits being eligible as well, but I can't recall anyone but pensioners coming to our house to get their packets.

                  Now you mention it, the tins of meat ring a bell, but I don't recall if my parents were involved in distributing it.

                  There was also a wine lake, but sadly no distribution of free bottles of French, Spanish, Italian or German plonk to the needy.

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                  • #10
                    Re: European butter mountain

                    The European Parliament probably drank it!

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                    • #11
                      Re: European butter mountain

                      Originally posted by CrystalBall View Post
                      There was also a beef mountain and as a result free tins of EEC stewed steak were distributed a few years after the butter and cheese. I can remember my gran getting these as well, plain white labels with EEC branding. She gave my mum a can - the tins may have looked cheap and nasty but the meat inside them was absolutely delicious.
                      That caused consternations with certain people who were vegetarian or couldn't eat the beef due to religious reasons. Many of them, on principle, threw it in the bin.

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