Butter Has Won the War. Margarine Has Converted.

Margarine and butter have been fighting each other for decades, but now the battle is over – and butter has won! After years of bashing butter and claiming that dairy fat kills people, the giant margarine maker Unilever has gone so far as to incorporate real butter into its most popular Rama spread in Germany and another spread in Finland.

Unilever, an Anglo-Dutch company, makes Flora, Country Crock, and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter. For 20 years, they’ve tried to “beat butter at its own game,” but there’s point continuing. Margarine sales in the U.S. have dropped to their lowest point in 70 years, and sales are down by 30 percent since 2000. By contrast, butter sales in the U.S. are at a 40-year high, up 65 percent since 2000. In Germany, butter outsells margarine three-to-one, and sales of the latter didn’t grow at all in 2013.

Nutritionist Marion Nestle explains in this article for Bloomberg:

“Margarine has become a marker for cheap, processed, artificial, unhealthy food,” while at the same time butter’s reputation has greatly improved. “The irony is hilarious. Unilever went to a lot of trouble to formulate healthy margarines, but the zeitgeist has caught up with them.”

Antoine Bernard de Saint-Affrique, the head of Unilever’s food division, announced the change in approach when he spoke to investors last month: “We have been too obsessed, overly obsessed on the fact that butter was opposed to margarine. I’m happy to say that this time is over and we have changed. And we have changed in a very significant way.” No kidding!

While Unilever’s decision to add butter to its spreads was likely mostly financial – investors are getting frustrated with the low numbers, calls to sell the company are increasing, and they need to get those sales up – it’s also a wonderful example of the power of ordinary consumers. Food corporations, despite appearing to be huge and impenetrable, still depend entirely on what shoppers in the local grocery store choose to buy. While I have no intention to buy margarine, even if there is real butter added to it, it’s good to be reminded that I vote with every dollar I spend on food, and that those collective ‘drops in the bucket’ add up over time, causing companies like Unilever to reconsider their entire business approach.

I’ll leave you with this funny line from comedian Demetri Martin: “I like to use ‘I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter’ on my toast in the morning, because sometimes when I eat breakfast, I like to be incredulous. How was breakfast? Unbelievable.” Now he’s really got something to be incredulous about.


article by Katherine Martinko


Francesca A-S
Past Member 3 years ago

Wait... there was a war going on? :P thanks for sharing

Beverly S.
Beverly S3 years ago

I love butter, always have. When I was 3 years old, I'd hide under the table, and after my mother set it for dinner, I'd steal the stick of butter, go hide and eat the whole thing!
Today, it's organic, grass-fed, butter...and a prime reason I couldn't go vegan.

Bea W.
Bea Wilson3 years ago

HOORAY for butter! I have used both butter and margarine throughout my cooking life and there have been times that I thought to myself that some things tasted much better with real butter. I did read an article that said butter was healthier than margarine because of all the chemicals and preservatives so now I feel better about using butter. Whole wheat toast with butter is on my mind now.

Geoff P.
Geoff P3 years ago


Natasha Salgado
Past Member 3 years ago

Olive oil trumps both especially margarine.

Nicole Bergeron
Nicole Bergeron3 years ago

Washing the butter will also give you butterfat (yes like the butter fat milk)

Washing the butter is usually done as it appears, first time is after about 20-30 mins of heavy shaking, or rolling, you can see it start to form. Pour off the buttermilk and save for another use (add it too buttermilk sugar cookies). Rinse the butter by adding a little cold water to the solid butterfat in the jar and shaking it again. Do this several times until the rinse water runs clear. Drain off the liquid. When the butter is solid to liking, turn the butter into a medium bowl and knead with a wooden spoon, potato masher, or two forks to remove any excess liquid and blend solids. Pour off the liquid occasionally until most of it has been removed. Mix in salt. Keep working the butter until all the solids have blended together and all liquid has been worked out, about 15 minutes if desired.

If you want to skip all the washing, and the salt before rolling, and just keep rolling, the buttermilk will eventually incorporate. Remember every couple hours to pop it in the fridge so it stays nice and chilled.

Forgot to add if you have little ones that like to help but have way too much energy that isn't being burned off, you can give them a jar half full of heavy cream, salt if desired, and let them just shake it until they can't anymore and pass it off to a sibling if they have one.

Don Swanz
Don Swanz3 years ago

NICOLE B: With "thanks" and "appreciation". Don and WE CAN! :-))

Nicole Bergeron
Nicole Bergeron3 years ago

Sorry Don.
It's easy all you need is:
-heavy cream of any animal (should be ~60°F when you begin) 1 c cream will make ~1/2 c butter
-salt as well as cultures if desired (the cultures will give the butter a nice full and tangy taste that isn't overpowering),
and a jar with a lid (or you can use a food processor with a pastry blade, if so just mix in and go).

It will take a few hours of rolling it back and forth, more so if you use your feet since it will only be going a short distance, but you can control how thick you want it. You can have it so it comes out like whipped butter, or more solid like room temp butter. Some people like to "wash" their butter. My mother never did, she just drained whatever whey was left over (which was very very little) and let it be.

Lonsdale Moon
Lonsdale M3 years ago

As they say, only butter butters. I have always refused to eat margarine, it's disgusting. I was told that if you put a tub of marg out in your garage and left it there, it would look the same in 20 years time, kinda like Macca's burgers. Perhaps a myth but enough to keep me away from something that to me is not a real food choice. I tried I Can't Believe It's Not Butter once, it was the most foul tasting thing and it should have been labelled I Can't Believe This Isn't Engine Oil.

Pami W.
Pami W3 years ago

Another manufactured myth by the margarine industry pushing their product.
Glad butter finally has won the battle for now, againnnn!