10 Apr 2018 --- Butter consumption has increased by 1.7 million metric tons per annum over the last ten years. This market shift comes as the world adopts a better understanding of the health benefits of butter. While historically experts advised people to reduce their fat intake, they now agree that fats are beneficial for people’s health – especially natural dairy fats. Consumers are looking for natural, authentic whole foods such as butter, driving a resurgence in this area. And even with different consumer groups, the changing recommendations around butter have permitted them to eat butter again.
When we look at higher-fat consumers we break them down into five different types, says Thomas.
• Taste Lovers: People who enjoy the more satisfying taste and texture of full-fat products
• Sugar Lowerers: People who want to reduce their sugar intake and perceive low-fat products as higher in sugar
• Protein Lovers: Consumers who are choosing high-protein products and overlooking fat content
• Naturally Healthy Seekers: Consumers who perceive naturally high-fat products as healthier than low-fat, processed alternatives
• Low Carbers: People going low-carb and "higher fat" for sports, fitness or weight wellness reasons
Thomas also maintains that butter is a form of nutrition that is natural and a good addition to human health. “Consumers are also increasingly looking for natural products that taste good and they want to understand the ingredient list of their foods. Butter is as natural as it gets, made of just cream, or cream and salt – so butter offers food manufacturers the ability to have a clean, understandable ingredients list on their products.”
“Consumers are increasingly looking for wholesome foods, and butter is nutritionally rich. Butter contains fat-soluble vitamins and more than 400 different fatty acids. But not all butter is the same. It’s important for food manufacturers to use the very best milk fats when they want to answer consumer trends around clean labeling and a desire for naturally healthy foods,” he explains.
Beta-carotene is what gives great milk fats a distinctive golden yellow color and milk from grass-fed cows has more beta-carotene than milk from grain-fed cows. So, country of origin impacts the taste and look of butter hugely.
Thomas also notes: “Our farming follows the natural patterns of pasture growth in New Zealand, making it one of the few places in the world where cows graze on grass for most of the year. Research shows that grass-fed dairy products have higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, conjugated linoleic acid and vitamin K2, which can be found in NZMP Butter from New Zealand.”
Click to EnlargeAnd he believes that innovation will extend the range of butter ingredients. “While the vast majority of what we sell is pure butter, we also provide a full range of butter ingredients, including spreadable butter and butter blends. As demand for butter continues to grow, and therefore price is expected to increase, we are likely to see a plethora of new butter products on the market,” Thomas suggests.
He also believes that in years to come, leading food manufacturers will innovate their butter product ranges and formulation to meet all consumer needs, from premium through to affordable options.
BO Butter is a self-help organization of the butter industry and milk producers. Director of the organization for BO Butter GmbH, Peter Ryser, also spoke with FoodIngredientsFirst about the trends the organization is monitoring.
“The Swiss butter market reacts differently to the EU butter market. Sales volumes have been very stable in recent years. In recent years, around 44,500 tons of butter, plus/minus 500 tons, has been sold in Switzerland. In recent years, we have seen different developments that have or will affect butter consumption in the future.”
More and more butter is consumed outside the home, which means that butter is increasingly used and sold in processed products, according to Ryser. “Thus, more butter can be sold to the industry. However, the industry is very price sensitive, where vegetable fat can be used, as it is much cheaper, therefore, sales to the industry have increased only slightly.”
The Swiss consumer is a critical consumer and also willing to pay a little more if he can buy healthy, fresh, local or sustainable products.
Ryser believes that these trends “overlap” and lead to the fact that less butter is consumed in Switzerland, but not more.
Recently, the palm fat came heavily in the criticism. “So far, this has not led to an increase in sales of butter in Switzerland,” notes Ryser. “The vegetable fats are mainly processed in industrial products. Since the vegetable fats are much cheaper, the industrial processors will try to replace the palm fat with other vegetable fats. Nevertheless, we hope that the consumer continues to critically question the products and that there are still industrial processors who will switch to butter, which will allow more butter to be sold in Switzerland,” he explains.
A resurgence of butter in Asia
In Asia, disposable income is increasing, and consumers are looking for more premium food options. According to Fonterra, consumers are willing to pay 15 percent more for bakery products made with butter compared to margarine. In Southeast Asia, the trends and needs for natural butter are present, showing itself very apparently despite the fact that market is still developing.
FoodIngredientsFirst spoke to Fonterra’s Regional Foodservice Director Stanley Goh who noted that Fonterra sees their customers making a move away from synthetic ingredients and substitutes such as margarine in applications that typically use butter. And one sector which is taking shape is the bakery sector.
Click to EnlargeHe says: “Bakery is a channel that has moved more towards butter, and not just for the application of croissants, but for cakes, buns, and other pastries, so the bakery sector as a channel is gaining most from this movement.”
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