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Yellow favour: margarine mellows and butter booms

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source, January 2010–December 2014, average annual sample n = 13,243 Grocery Buyers 14+.

The tables have churned: butter has overtaken margarine as the spread of choice among Australian grocery shoppers, data from Roy Morgan Research shows.

More than half of Grocery Buyers 14+ (51%) bought butter in an average four-week period last year (up 6% points since 2010) while less than half (49%) bought Margarine (down 9% points).

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

% who bought Margarine, Butter or Dairy Spread/Butter Blend in an average four-week period

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source, January 2010–December 2014, average annual sample n = 13,243 Grocery Buyers 14+.

Butter-buyers are more likely than margarine-buyers to enjoy cooking (and to be complimented on it).  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. Healthiness is a goal—but not at the expense of taste. They are more likely than marge-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, to buy frozen or chilled ready-made meals, and to be concerned about their cholesterol levels and weight. They 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. 

Ten attitudes more likely to be held by… 

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source, January 2014–December 2014, sample n = 12,629 Grocery Buyers 14+.

Angela Smith, Group Account Director – 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.

“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. Perhaps they are not considered healthy or convenient enough for margarine buyers nor creamy and decadent enough for butter lovers?”

To learn how to identify and reach Australians with different grocery-buying habits or food attitudes, contact:

Vaishali Nagaratnam
Telephone: +61 (3) 9224 5309

About Roy Morgan

Roy Morgan is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices throughout Australia, as well as in Indonesia, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate


25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%