Move over Europe, because New Zealand has officially been crowned as the highest consumer of butter in the world for 2022.
According to Statista, Kiwis devoured an average of 6.2 kg of butter per person in 2022, 1.5 kg per person more than second place Belarus.
Butter has long been a part of New Zealand's culinary heritage, dating back to the 19th-century settlers who brought British food traditions to the country. It has remained a beloved staple ever since, with consistent annual consumption ranging between 5.8 and 6 kg per person over the past five years.
Not only do New Zealanders consume large quantities of butter, but they also excel in producing and exporting it.
In 2022 alone, the country's dairy exports reached an impressive $13.4 billion, accounting for 30.4% of its total exported goods. As the world's largest butter exporter, New Zealand churned out a staggering 480,000 metric tons of this golden delight.
A large portion of livestock in New Zealand is grass-fed, resulting in milk from cows that feast on lush green pastures. This grazing lifestyle lends a richer flavour, enticing scent, and vibrant golden colour to the butter. Compared to its grain-fed counterparts, New Zealand grass-fed butter offers a distinct taste with delightful grassy undertones.
The difference in flavour isn't solely due to the cows' diet however. Both grass-fed and grain-fed butter contains the same milk extracts, but grass-fed butter exhibits flavour compounds at varying levels.
Additionally, grass-fed butter has smaller fat globules and a higher proportion of unsaturated fats, giving it a smoother texture and making it easier to spread. It also melts at a lower temperature, providing a creamy sensation on the palate.
Butter from grass-fed animals may even offer health benefits. It could contain higher levels of essential compounds like vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, and beta-carotene, enhancing its appeal to health-conscious consumers.
New Zealand's love for butter, along with the growing preference for organic and natural products, saw increased domestic sales, especially during the COVID-19 lockdowns when home baking became a popular pastime.
So, whether you're spreading it on toast or using it in your favourite recipes, savour the taste of homegrown goodness and experience why New Zealand takes the crown as the butter capital of the world.