Unilever returns to original Flora after revamp flops

Unilever will continue to use new cool blending process for ‘original taste’ Flora original

Unilever has bowed to consumer pressure and is bringing back the old Flora Original flavour less than 18 months after a high-profile reformulation backed by a £29m investment.

Unilever relaunched Flora Original in January 2012, introducing a new production process that it claimed would make Flora “healthier and tastier” for shoppers.

However, within weeks of the launch, shoppers took to forums - and thegrocer.co.uk - to register their disgust at the change and threaten to stop buying it.

Unilever long defended the new recipe and said consumer research showed shoppers preferred it. But this week it relented and announced a u-turn. Patty Essick, Unilever brand building director for spreads in the UK, said: “We’ve been listening to our consumers’ feedback and as a result we’ve taken the decision to return to the original Flora taste.”

A survey of 1,800 consumers had shown that nearly 70% of Flora Original buyers would welcome the original flavour’s return, she added.

‘Original taste’ Flora Original is being rolled out this month with an unchanged rsp. However, although the original flavour would be back, it would not be reverting to the original Flora recipe completely, said Unilever.

Flora would continue to use the new cool blending process it introduced in 2012 - and invested £29m in - as it “preserves the natural goodness of the seeds used within the recipe”, said the company. Flora’s 2012 “flavour blend” of linseed, sunflower and rapeseed oil would, however, be adjusted to recreate the original flavour.

The relaunch will be backed by a Back to the Taste You Love campaign, over one million vouchers will be sent out and packs will flag up the change. “We are so confident in this change that we will be offering a money-back guarantee,” Essick said.

In the past year, sales of Flora spreads have fallen 12.4% to £188.8m and by 9.6% to 58.8 million kg [SIG 52 w/e 11 May 2013]. The launch of Lurpak Lightest by Arla in January last year could also have had an impact.