Spreading the love: butter is better, according to 51% of shoppers

Friday, 15 May, 2015

After several years of growth, butter has finally overtaken margarine as the spread of choice for Australian grocery shoppers. More than half of shoppers (51%) bought butter in 2014, compared to just under half (49%) who purchased margarine, according to new research from Roy Morgan.

Butter purchases have been up and margarine down every year since 2010, with dairy spreads and butter blends holding steady, purchased by 29% of grocery buyers in an average four weeks.

What a consumer spreads on their toast says a lot about their food tastes more generally, Roy Morgan found. Butter buyers are more likely to enjoy cooking and trying new foods and are more likely to opt for additive-free, organic and non-GM food. They are also more likely to trust well-known brands than supermarket own brands.

Margarine lovers, on the other hand, are more likely to buy frozen or chilled ready-made meals, buy the same food every week and have traditional meals at home. They’re more concerned about cholesterol levels and weight, and are more likely to buy private labels than well-known brands.

“Broader trends over the last few years may be influencing the changing habits of grocery buyers choosing between butter and margarine. Australians are becoming more health-conscious and aware of fat content, more concerned by additives and genetic modification, and more interested in cooking and entertaining,” said Angela Smith, group account director - Roy Morgan Research.

“Both groups of buyers care about the health value of the foods they buy, but in very different ways. Margarine buyers are more likely to be concerned with cholesterol and fat, while those buying butter are more likely to be concerned with finding additive-free, organic and genetically unmodified groceries.

“Given the pros and cons of each type of spread, it is interesting that the hybrid butter blends have not performed more strongly. Perhaps they are not considered healthy or convenient enough for margarine buyers nor creamy and decadent enough for butter lovers?”

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