Vegan Butter May Soon Be Cheaper Than Dairy. Here’s Why
Americans love butter, especially during the holidays as seasonal baked goods and comfort foods pair perfectly with generous helpings of the rich spread. So as the United States faces a growing butter shortage that promises to get worse as we get closer to the holiday season, where should shoppers turn? Be Better –– a vegan brand responsible for the first pastry-designed plant-based butter –– is proving to consumers worldwide that dairy-free butter alternatives are the solution to the butter shortage.
This month, Be Better rolled out its signature vegan butter to United Kingdom retailers, priced below its animal-based counterpart. Dutch company Be Better My Friend developed the vegan butter recipe from shea, organic coconut, and rapeseed oils. Now, the vegan butter is available in the UK, Germany, France, Spain, The Netherlands, Hungary, Greece, Australia, and Singapore.
Once it lands stateside, the brand could help the U.S. vegan butter market meet price parity, especially in the face of growing supply chain issues, but until then, there are many affordable dairy-free butter alternatives already on shelves in the U.S., such as Trader Joe's Buttery Spread alternative, which rings in at $3.99 per 8.82-ounce block. To compare, an 8-ounce container of Land O'Lakes spreadable butter costs around $3.19.
Be Better's vegan butter claims to deliver the same rich, and creaminess as traditional dairy-based butter products. While the butter is lighter and contains less fat, the company claims it is designed to cook pastries with the same result as traditional dairy. Top chefs including Philip Khoury, pastry chef at Harrods, and Jordi Roca, winner of the World’s Best Pastry Chef Award have endorsed the brand.
The brand states that its product generates 79 percent less CO2 and uses 86 percent less water to produce than conventional dairy. With the vegan butter market slated to double by 2032, Be Better intends to capitalize on the growing market, even with its product 30 to 40 percent cheaper than its counterparts.
America’s Butter Shortage
Be Better's vegan butter is not in the United States yet, but Americans likely will need to embrace butter alternatives this holiday season. Butter reserves in U.S. storage facilities in August fell 10 percent month-over-month, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. From last year, butter supplies are down 22 percent. The data shows that there were only 282 million pounds of butter in warehouses in August 2022 compared to 362 million pounds in August 2021.
This shortage and supply chain issue is causing butter prices to spike. Groceries in the United States have increased steadily over 2022, and butter prices increased by 24.6 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Now, brands such as Be Better within the United States have a chance to fall below the price of dairy products, giving Americans a cheaper and more sustainable option.
Plant-Based Meat is Reaching Price Parity
This February, the Good Food Institute released a report that detail a similar trend in the meat sector. The report found that as the cost of beef, chicken and pork has risen in recent months, and the price of alternative meat products made with pea protein and other plant-based ingredients is expected to fall, the price gap is expected to be erased by 2023.
Currently, the average retail price for a pound of ground beef is $4.49, which continues to rise as supply chain issues impact the animal agriculture industry. However, the price of plant-based alternatives continues to fall. Shoppers can purchase Impossible Meat for approximately $7.89 per pound at retailers nationwide.
By teaming up with Alpha Foods, vegan fast food chain Plant Power developed a new affordable pea-protein burger that will rival some major fast food chains. Plant Power’s proprietary pea protein burger will be available in hamburger and cheeseburger variations for $4.95 and $5.95, respectively. The affordable menu will now be priced within $1 to $2 of major fast-food chains’ conventional beef burgers.
How Shopping Vegan Can Save You Money
Supply chain issues in the meat and dairy sectors are motivating shoppers to choose plant-based options to save money. This August, a report found that approximately 28 percent of shoppers are reducing meat consumption to handle the cost of living crisis. Grocery costs for vegans are 40 percent lower than the costs for meat-eaters. The report found average meals including meat costs $2.36 per person whereas a plant-based meal costs $1.41 per person.
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