As The Great British Bake Off kicks off this week (Wednesday August 24) it’s topical to consider some of those essential baking components. How much do we know about butter, the biggest brands and where the milk that goes into this kitchen staple comes from?
The table below shows that while the sales of butter from Arla led the way on sales value, it is Unilever and its non-butter spreads that lead the way on volume.
Leading manufacturers sales and volumes (2014/15)
Sales value (£ million)
Sales volume (million kg)
Flora, I can’t believe it’s not butter, Bertolli
Retailer own label
Countrylife, Clover, Utterly Butterly
In terms of the main butter brands, Lurpak leads the pack in UK sales volume and value. Lurpak is made in Denmark from Danish milk but UK members of the Arla co-operative benefit from sales of the product here in the UK.
Looking for truly British butter brands, the biggest ones are Countrylife (Dairy Crest) and Anchor (Arla) and today most retailer own label butter is made with British milk, either through Muller or Gower View Foods in Wales.
This has been helped by Muller’s investment in a £17 million butter processing plant in Market Drayton, which, in 2013 started producing butter for food processing. In 2015 Muller launched its first retail butter packs from the same plant. Made with 100% British cream from Red Tractor farms the butter is sold as branded Muller butter as well as own label butter.
This move has helped address the UK dairy trade imbalance by displacing imported products with those made with British cream.
And this looks to have worked, for the first 5 months of 2016 cumulative butter imports have decreased by 1,663 tonnes (8%) compared to volumes imported over the same months last year. Imports originating from Ireland were down 203 tonnes (2%).
Even more staggering are the butter export figures - UK exports were 18,825 tonnes between Jan-May 2016, 7,181 tonnes (62%) higher than a year earlier. This was largely driven by bulk butter exports, with EU volumes up 43% to 11,749 tonnes and non EU up 152% to 3, 440 tonnes.
With Bake Off kicking off it’s 2016 series tonight let’s ensure we try to support British dairy farmers by choosing British butter ahead of some of the alternatives out there. The recent investment in British butter processing is really positive news and one that we should remember when we Celebrate British Food this Autumn.
Click here for UK dairy imports statistics.