Speciality butter is winning consumers over thanks to its premium image, and the appeal of taste and natural qualities

Speciality butter sales continue to rise, partly due to endorsement by celebrity chefs and a growing consumer desire for premium, natural products to spread on toast.
Both spreadable butter and special butter are driving the butter and spreads category, according to TNS. Special butter achieved year-on-year value growth of 11.3% while spreadable was up 13.5% [TNS 52 w/e March 27, 2005].
Lactalis UK, the market leader in this sector, which produces the Président range of butter, has capitalised on this by teaming up with chef Jean-Christophe Novelli, star of the recent TV programme Hell’s Kitchen. It has launched an on-pack promotion across 400,000 packs of Président unsalted butter offering consumers the chance to win a dinner party cooked by the chef in his own kitchen.
“This promotion fits in well with the brand,” says Tony Reid, Lactalis product
manager. “Chefs are using unsalted butter. We’re working hard to educate people about the different types available.”
Reid feels the C1 demographic group is the next big growth area for butter and has started targeting this group with advertorials in consumer women’s weekly magazine Bella aimed at encouraging trial and educating consumers.
Naturalness is Kerrygold’s message with its new Softer Butter. Ray Levett sales and marketing director at Kerrygold, says: “The new product contains no vegetable oil whereas in the majority of cases, the butter in branded competitor spreadables is diluted with as much as 31% vegetable oil.
“We put a lot of effort into making our butter softer without adding anything to it.”
Wyke Farms, which also draws on the naturalness and quality of its butters, is revamping its butter range launching a new brand Truly Scrumptious. New wrapping and a new logo have been designed for the butter, which has won awards in events such as the Royal Bath and West Show and Taste of the West Food Awards.
According to Wyke Farms, the rising popularity of butter can be attributed in part to the hydrogentated and trans fatty acids debate. “As more consumers understand that hydrogenated vegetable oil spread may have less saturated fat but, due to the hydrogenation process, have more trans fatty acids, they are returning to farmhouse butter,” says the company.
However, consumer education is needed before the nascent market for flavoured butters can develop, says Stuart Ibberson, senior brand manager at Lurpak.
Lurpak led the way in flavoured butters, but athough its garlic-flavoured butter is doing well with a 42% growth year on year [IRI 52 w/e April 16, 2005], the other two variants - herbs and chilli with lime have been delisted.
Ibberson says: “We need to go in hand-in-hand with the retailers and educate consumers. The flavoured butters need to be placed in other places out of the butters and spreads fixture - perhaps in meat or vegetable aisles.”