Butter revives as yellow fats decline in Australia

December 28, 2016
3 min read

Per capita consumption of yellow fats continues to decline in Australia amid ongoing debate about the health benefits and drawbacks of butter and margarine. However, current figures hide a resurgence occurring in the butter market. Like elsewhere globally, butter has benefited in Australia from recent studies that have challenged previous orthodoxies about the harmfulness of unprocessed saturated fats, as highlighted by Mintel’s Fat Sheds Stigma trend. This revival has occurred at the expense of other table spreads, such as margarine, which enjoyed a strong position in the 1990s and early-2000s, but now face an increasingly difficult operating environment with butter’s resurgence and greater scrutiny around naturalness.

Concerns over fat have clearly been superseded by worries over ‘processed food’. While Australian margarine producers are well ahead of the global curve phasing out the use of trans-fats in the 1990s, they need to reassert their natural credentials or highlight specific functional benefits to compete with butter going forward.

Yellow fats brands should highlight natural credentials to appeal to Millennials

Like elsewhere globally, the resurgence of butter in Australia have been heavily driven by Millennials, with this generation more likely than other age groups to find natural credentials motivating. As explored by Mintel’s Artificial: Public Enemy No. 1 trend, natural is becoming an expectation across food and drink categories globally as consumers demand more information about a product’s ingredient list, provenance, and manufacturing process.

Butter fits well into this trend – now that attitudes to saturated fat have been reassessed – thanks to its simple ingredient list and uncomplicated manufacturing process. Margarine, however, has a far more processed image and has long been viewed as a factory-produced imitation of butter.

Moving forward though, there are opportunities for margarine and other table spread brands to shift perceptions of the category by promoting shorter ingredient lists and other natural credentials. This process is already underway in Australia, with half of all margarine and other spread innovations in the 12 months to November 2016 having some kind of natural claim according to Mintel’s Global New Products Database (GNPD). However, there remain other areas to exploit, particularly around on-trend oils. Such re-formulation will not only allow brands to improve their natural and health credentials, but also appeal to a Millennial audience increasingly obsessed with plant-based diets and ‘clean eating’.

The innovation we’re seeing: “On trend” oils and functional benefits

Ballantyne Spreadable Lighter, Butter and Chia Oil


The product is a light blend of butter and cold pressed Australian chia oil. It contains 25% less fat than original Ballantyne spreadable.





Olive Grove, Classic Spread

Olive grove classic spread

This mild tasting spread has been made with the natural goodness of olive oil, and has been approved by the National Heart Foundation.




Caroline provides robust consumer insights and realistic recommendations to dairy companies and tracks global innovation and consumer trends to assist clients in their growth strategies. Prior to Mintel, Caroline managed brand strategy in the UK and France for a FTSE 250 dairy company. As part of this she led annual brand planning; developed and executed marketing plans, including advertising campaigns and media planning; and, drove innovation and renovation projects, from market research to in-store implementation.

Caroline Roux
Caroline Roux

As a Consultant Analyst, Caroline provides consumer insights and recommendations to dairy companies and tracks global innovation and consumer trends.

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