We started with full sticks of sweet cream butter in 1921. In 2003, we launched tub butter. Then came half sticks in 2006. Now in 2018, Dairy Foods is launching its next butter platform: LAND O LAKES® Soft Squeeze™ Butter Spread.
“We are replicating the success of squeezable products in other categories such as mayo, jelly and sour cream,” says Laura Dada, associate marketing manager for Dairy Foods.
Since the concept of squeeze spread isn’t new, we found a way to make LAND O LAKES® Soft Squeeze™ butter spread stand out: It contains real butter. And that plays well with our target consumer segment.
“Our target consumer segment leans toward Millennials,” says Laura. “This is a group that prioritizes convenience, wants to feel more confident in cooking, and cares about brands that share their values.”
The majority of our target consumer segment have children; family and traditions are important to them. For this segment, taste and a clean ingredients list is also important. And according to multiple focus groups, they also like clean butter—no crumbs.
“Our positioning and marketing campaign will be around ‘keep my butter clean,’” says Laura.
Try, try again
In 2015, Land O’Lakes R&D began figuring out a way to make a spread come out of a bottle without sacrificing taste, texture and appearance. First, the team prototyped butter with canola oil as a squeezable product.
“We learned that you can’t squeeze butter with canola oil out of a bottle or tube directly from the refrigerator,” says Brianne Maier, Dairy Foods packaging R&D manager.
Another challenge was the relationship between the product, process, and packaging.
“This product has a heavy process and formulation interaction,” says Jill Paddock, senior process engineer. “Even small changes to the process affect performance of the finished product."
Jill needed to determine a consistent production process that yielded the desired finished product. She and the product developer worked closely with Brianne to ensure any changes made to the formulation and processing lined up with packaging and vice versa.
That meant spending many hours in our Arden Hills pilot production plant.
“For about six months, we were in the pilot plant almost weekly to work through formulations and process parameters,” says Jill. “Since there was a desire to make the spread with butter, we had to do things such as adjust the butter and milkfat percentages.”
“Due to the firm nature of the product, squeezability was on the difficult side,” says Brianne. “To combat this, we designed a custom, malleable bottle to ease in product dispensing. The thin walls of bottle allow it to fully collapse and the side walls can be squeezed together. When the walls touch, the consumer can ‘squeegee’ out the product.”
Innovation is key
Our investment in LAND O LAKES® Soft Squeeze™ butter spread is already looking good. Walmart stores will carry it as well as many other retailers.
“Retailer response has been terrific,” says Laura. “Everyone is really excited about this unique product.”
LAND O LAKES® Soft Squeeze™ butter spread is already available at Schnucks stores in and around St. Louis, Missouri, and will roll out to other retailers in the coming weeks.