The tables have churned

Butter, toast, margarineButter has overtaken margarine as the spread of choice among Australian grocery shoppers, data from Roy Morgan Research shows.

More than half of grocery buyers over 14 bought butter in an average four week period last year, up six per cent since 2010, while less than half bought margarine, down nine per cent.

The spreadable edibles are following converse paths in popularity, with butter buying up and margarine down every year since 2010. Holding comparatively steady are the hybrid dairy spreads and butter blends, now bought by 29 per cent of grocery buyers in an average four weeks, just slightly below the five year average of 30 per cent.

Butter buyers are more likely than margarine buyers to enjoy cooking. They are more likely to enjoy entertaining spontaneously and trying new and exotic foods. They are also more likely to try to buy additive free, organic, and non GM food. They are more likely than margarine buyers to trust well known brands more than stores’ own.

Those who bought margarine in the last four weeks are less epicurean than their butter loving brethren. They are more likely to prefer to clean than cook, buy frozen or chilled ready made meals, and be concerned about their cholesterol levels and weight.

Margarine buyers are more likely to buy the same food every week and have traditional meals at home. Like butter buyers, they appreciate taste, but for them, it’s about the end result, not the ingredients. They are more likely than butter-buyers to buy more stores’ own products than well known brands.

Angela Smith, group account director at Roy Morgan Research, says 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 Smith.

“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.”

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