Fearless, uninhibited trial and error. That’s how milkadamia CEO Jim Richards describes the process of creating his company’s latest product, a buttery spread called Butta-Bing Butta-Bloom.
Made using a macadamia oil blend, the plant based, refrigerated ‘butta’ is free from both dairy and palm oil. It looks, tastes and spreads like a traditional dairy based butter, making it an ideal choice for butter lovers who opt out of dairy as a health, lifestyle or ethical choice, and those seeking products without palm oil.
Macadamias and global wellness
milkadamia is a US-based macadamia company with its roots in Australia. It first entered the non-dairy milks space back in 2014 with the launch of an award-winning macadamia milk for baristas. The ensuing years have seen the brand expand its range and distribution, with the line-up now boasting 10 milks and creamers available in retail outlets across the US, UK and Australia.
Butta-Bing Butta-Bloom buttery spread launched in October 2019 exclusively in Wholefoods stores and is now available in most major US grocery chains, in salted and unsalted versions.
While the launch represents a deepening of the brand’s presence in the non-dairy space, Jim says his company’s approach to product innovation is driven by a bigger purpose.
“milkadamia’s prime goal is to position macadamias into the global wellness narrative. Being non-dairy is not an objective in itself, it is a vehicle to make macadamias relevant within the burgeoning wellness and eco-movement,” Jim explained.
While the wellness movement has its origins in personal wellbeing, Jim is acutely aware that the conversation has expanded. “We need to understand wellness is now much broader than the previous narrow focus on personal nutrition, and includes a product’s eco-credentials,” he says.
Butta-Bing Butta-Bloom’s palm oil free formulation is one of the ways they’re achieving this, and provides a real point of difference. “Being non-palm oil is very well received by consumers and adds significantly to the eco-credentials of milkadamia and macadamias.”
While wellness is key, Jim insists it should not be at the expense of taste, and he sees macadamias as delivering just as strongly on flavour as they do on wellbeing.
“Macadamias carry the promise of taste, smoothness and exclusiveness,” he says. “A key attribute of Australian macadamias is their buttery quality, so a ‘butta’ made from them is not a big stretch for consumers.”
Jim says his team feels a responsibility to only launch the best macadamia products possible, and it’s a mission that lies at the heart of the milkadamia brand.
“Our products have to taste great and do macadamias proud. A word we use a lot to steer the brand is ‘elevate’. If a product, packaging or brand position does not elevate the category and macadamias, we don’t launch it.”
Catering to powerful personal values
Jim describes the growth of the non-dairy category as “explosive yet sustained”. Butta-Bing Butta-Bloom was created in response to what he and his team were observing as established players in the space.
“We could see not just the range of non-dairy options consumers want, but also the determination with which they seek them. When personal values get involved in food choices, they are powerful drivers. Non-dairy aligns with the trend towards reduced dairy and meat consumption, so providing alternatives is fertile ground.”
Butta-Bing Butta-Bloom enables consumers to indulge in their love of butter without compromising the health or ethical values that are fuelling plant based eating trends, particularly in western markets.
As Jim explains, “Both milk and butter are so deeply ingrained in the western diet via baking, cooking and regional cultural cuisine, that even dedicated vegans seek alternatives that taste and function like butter.”
The milkadamia team is achieving great success by innovating in the dairy-free space, yet interestingly, Jim says disruption is not a priority of their new product development strategy.
“We don’t set out to disrupt, and in fact do very little research into categories or competitors’ activities,” he reveals. “We set out to innovate regardless of what others may be doing. We don’t invest time in watching others – we prefer to take action, so they are compelled to watch us. Our focus is on what is happening within the zeitgeist and achieving cultural relevance over category tweaks.”
Acclaim spreads far and wide
Jim describes its latest milkadamia product as “exactly like traditional dairy butter” and says perfecting the formulation was very much a group effort.
“The process is led by our talented product formulator, and the whole team gets involved in tasting and evaluating the product.”
While Jim and his team are enthusiastic users of all milkadamia products, he says they have never taken as enthusiastically as they have to the buttery spread.
“We have eaten so much bread, just so we can use our butta!” he says.
The milkadamia team is enjoying high praise for the product from the trade and consumers, and it has also struck a chord in the hospitality industry, with Jim revealing some USA restaurant chains are now exclusively using Butta-Bing Butta-Bloom.
“That chefs have embraced it with such enthusiasm is perhaps the highest compliment possible,” he says.
What’s next for milkadamia?
Jim says expansion is always on the mind of the milkadamia team.
“The US and Canada are significant markets that are galloping along keeping us busy, but eventually we will set up teams in other countries. Our ambient macadamia milk can already be purchased in around 11 countries, however chilled is another level of challenge for exporting.”
And it sounds as though the next innovation may not be far away.
“Watch this space for cheeses,” reveals Jim. “We are right on the cusp.”
We eagerly await the next instalment of the milkadamia story.