Tate & Lyle
Carst and Walker
Flora Buttery

Unilever launches Flora Buttery in SA

Unilever has launched its Flora Buttery spread in South Africa. In a distinctive golden pack, it has all the taste of butter, but 70% less saturated fat, to give consumers the best of both. Adding a dash of butter, or “butteriness”, to a vegetable spread, rather than the reverse, is a new form of hybrid to the local market. Flora Buttery is blended from buttermilk for that flavour, with a blend of seed oils that naturally contain omega 3 and 6. One serving contains just 1.5g saturated fat, compared to 5.4g in butter.

    “Blended with real buttermilk to give an irresistibly smooth and creamy buttery taste,” states the Buttery pack.

    The Buttery tubs are being merchandised with the butter bricks and the “hybrid” butter spreads, rather than with the rest of the Flora range and its margarine-type competitors, which is telling consumers that the spread is more butter than “margarine”, reports Independent consumer journalist, Wendy Knowler.

    To be called a margarine, a product must be 80 percent vegetable oil. If the oil content is less than that, the product must be labelled a spread. When the price of oil started rocketing a few years ago, many new “spreads” containing less oil and more water entered the market. They aren’t quite as suitable for baking and frying, but they can claim to be less fattening, writes Knowler.

    Then there’s the heart health issue – saturated (animal) fats versus unsaturated (plant). For years we’ve been told unsaturated fats are better for us than the saturated ones, but recent research is questioning this perceived fact.

    So, just how buttery is Buttery? The list of ingredients on the bottom of the pack reveals that it contains 60 percent vegetable oils, 38 percent water and only one percent butterfat powder.

    With that the case, Knowler asked Unilever to explain the product’s much-hyped smooth and creamy buttery taste, was it from “real buttermilk”, as claimed, or from flavoured vegetable fat?

    Responding, Flora brand manager Odele Sheik said “buttery” was a descriptive word which “captures more than just taste”.

    “It refers to smoothness, softness and texture in the same way as describing something as being ‘rich and creamy’ does not imply it is cream,” she said.

    “The formulation of Flora Buttery contains buttermilk powder at 1 percent which, if reconstituted, equates to 10 percent buttermilk. Labelling regulations say we have to declare the ingredient as either buttermilk powder or reconstituted buttermilk powder, as it is reconstituted in the blending process.

    “So we could have declared ‘reconstituted buttermilk powder (10 percent)’ but this felt a bit cumbersome on an already long ingredient list.

    “While other butter flavours are also used to enhance the butteriness, 10 percent buttermilk is a significant amount in the formulation and we are comfortable with the fact that we are not misleading consumers.”

    Flora Buttery was part of a global Unilever project, Sheik said. The product had already been launched in European countries, “and has been well received by consumers”.

    Compare nutritional profiles of Butter vs Buttery here

    Sources: www.iol.co.za; Unilever South Africa

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