Upfield is aiming to take a chunk out of the booming butter category with the launch of Flora Plant, a plant-based block butter alternative made from sunflower, rapeseed and sustainable palm oils.
Available in salted and unsalted variants, the NPD started rolling out across the mults this week and will go on sale in independent retailers from September through Booker Wholesale (rsp: £1.80/250g).
The brand’s UK launch follows a successful rollout in in overseas markets such as Austria last year and in Switzerland and the Netherlands earlier this year. It is also due to go on sale in the US in August.
Merchandised alongside block butters, the product was suitable for vegans in addition to anyone who may have a dairy, gluten or lactose intolerance, Upfield said.
It also “cooks, fries, bakes and spreads just like dairy butter”, the plant-based giant added, was free from preservatives, artificial colours and flavours and could be frozen to increase shelf-life.
The NPD also boasted half the climate impact of dairy butter, it claimed, with every consumer switching out of butter to a block of Flora helping to save about 1.8kg of greenhouse gas emissions.
If 1,000 people switched to the brand for just one year, some 19,000kg of greenhouse gas emissions would be saved – the equivalent to driving a petrol car around the world twice, it added.
Packaged in a 100% biodegradable parchment paper wrapper, the new range was also completely free from plastic – part of Upfield’s plan to end its dependence on plastic packaging by 2025.
The branding was also deliberately distinct from the rest of the Flora spreads range, the supplier said.
The launch will be supported by a national marketing campaign in August – including in-store activation, sampling, digital activation across social media and e-commerce and a celebrity partnership.
“Flora Plant is our biggest innovation in years,” said Upfield UK & Ireland marketing director Catherine Lloyd.
“We believe we need to change the way we impact the planet’s health now. By making a small switch to Flora Plant, consumers can still enjoy a delicious taste and the performance of butter whilst doing their little bit to help the planet.”
Sales of dairy block butters soared at the height of lockdown, with value sales up 36% to £47m and volumes up 34% [Kantar 4 w/e 19 April]. Annual sales are up 4% in value terms with volumes up 3.1% for the block butters category [52 w/e 26 January].
Value sales for the Flora brand as a whole rose by 19.1% to £20.9m for the same period [Nielsen].
Total Flora sales were down 9.3% last year to £107m following several years of sluggish sales [Nielsen/The Grocer Top Products Survey 52 w/e 7 September 2019]. However, Upfield stressed the brand had enjoyed a “strong performance” since relaunching last March.