Spread bet – butter winning out against margarine

Aussies are increasingly choosing butter over margarine, while other spreads, including butter-blend and dairy spreads, are also increasing in popularity.

This is one of the findings from Roy Morgan’s latest research in the 12 months to December 2018.

According to Roy Morgan, more than 12.3 million Australians buy butter, margarine or another type of butter-blend/dairy spread in an average month. This figure is up from just under 11.9 million four years ago.

In 2018, more than 8.6 million Australians bought butter in an average month. This figure comprises 42 per cent of Australians aged 14-plus – an increase of more than 1.1 million compared with four years ago. In 2014, just a little more than 7.4 million Australians bought butter in an average month.

By comparison, just over five million Australians (25 per cent) bought margarine in an average month in 2018. This figure represents a significant decline of more than 1.3 million from four years ago in 2014.

In addition, nearly 2.6 million Australians (13 per cent) bought a butter blend/dairy spread in an average month. This is an increase of nearly 650,000 from four years ago.

Western Star the leading light

The increasing butter market over the past four years has benefited a range of butter producers. These include Western Star, Devondale Mainland and supermarket private-label butter brands. All have increased their market size between 2014 and 2018.

Western Star remains the leading producer of butter in Australia. More than 3.1 million Australians buy it in an average month, up by over 550,000 from four years ago.

But Devondale has increased its customer base by nearly 70,000 to 727,000. Mainland, too, has grown its customer base by nearly 140,000 to 656,000.

The private-label butter of leading supermarkets such as Woolworths, Coles, Aldi and Foodland is also doing well. Collectively, it increased its market size up by 175,000 to more than 2.5 million customers in 2018.

‘Tough, but growing, market’

Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine says Australians’ increasing preference for butter is now the main driver of growth in the butter/margarine/dairy spreads market.

“Butter is gaining the edge in the long-running battle between Australia’s two favourite spreads,” she said.

“This significant divergence in the market has provided a significant boost to all major butter-producing companies, led by Western Star.”

Ms Levine says the success of Western Star’s Unsalted and Salt Reduced variants shows the market potential of healthier spreads.

“If companies such as Western Star, as well as major butter producers including Devondale and Mainland can strike the right balance between a healthy butter or margarine spread that retains its taste, they can continue to grow their market shares in a tough, but growing, market.”

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