Chinese 'muddy buns' craze pushing up NZ butter price

A baking phenomenon taking China by storm is helping drive up New Zealand butter prices.

Butter prices have skyrocketed this year, jumping 42 percent since the start of the year.

ASB senior rural economist Nathan Penny said the price lift reflected the sudden slowdown in New Zealand production and robust demand.

"New Zealand is the largest butter exporter and the sudden slowdown in production has put the squeeze on milk fat markets," he said

The  'muddy bun' craze has been sweeping Asia.
The 'muddy bun' craze has been sweeping Asia. Photo credit:

"Indeed, hot and dry weather over late summer and autumn slammed the brakes on NZ production growth," said Penny.

He said in addition, global milk fat demand is robust, with demand for butter lifting as the perception that it is 'unhealthy' has changed.  

New Zealand butter has also found new markets, with "muddy buns" one popular product in the now large Chinese butter market.

The bun, also known as "dirty dirty bread" or zang zang bao in Chinese, has been described as a chocolate croissant.

Fonterra global food service marketing general manager Susan Cassidy told Australia's Weekly Times that the muddy bun had flaky chocolate pastry coated in rich chocolate ganache and was sprinkled with cocoa powder.

Chinese celebrities have been posting their 'muddy bun' experiences on social media.
Chinese celebrities have been posting their 'muddy bun' experiences on social media. Photo credit:

"It makes it impossible to keep your face clean while eating," she said.

"They are popular with celebrities who have taken to social media to share images of their muddy bun face experience," said Cassidy.

So strong has been the phenomenon that people have queued outside bakeries for hours in freezing temperatures to buy a bun said The Weekly, and the product has now spread to Malaysia and Singapore.