DEMAND FOR 'artisan' butter has skyrocketed under lockdown, with both the public and speciality bakers wanting more and more of the stuff.

Nick and Hilary Sinclair launched The Edinburgh Butter Company in 2018, having seen first-hand the rise in popularity of artisan butter in other countries. They now mark the end of 2021 with sales that have grown by 213% over the last 12 months, with revenue showing an increase of almost 130% over that time.

Volume sales of the company’s range of cultured butters have increased from 15,433kg in 2020, to 48,367kg during 2021. Revenue has rocketed from £240,759 to £464,716 over the same period. Sales and revenue are predicted to grow an additional 60% to the end of 2022.

Using live lactic culture and local cream – and no additives or preservatives – the couple developed a range of butters that includes Salted Cultured Butter Logs that are popular with restaurants and hotels. The company also produces Unsalted Cultured Butter Sheets, which are a favourite of bakers for supporting pastry lamination, one of only a handful of UK makers to do this. This year saw the launch of their buttermilk too, which has proved popular with chefs across the UK.

Mr Sinclair said: “We’ve seen a growing appreciation and awareness of artisan butter over the last few years, and this has translated directly into sales. In addition to customer demand for our butter from independent retailers, we’ve also developed strong relationships with chefs and particularly, professional bakers right across the country.

"We’re now selling to some of the best bakeries and kitchens in the UK – customers who would probably have chosen imported butter in the past. We’re one of only a handful of producers making sheet butter so this is a key factor in our growth.

“The demand for locally sourced produce with a reduced carbon footprint continues to grow and, although at the moment a huge majority of sheet butter is imported into the UK from France, there’s a real opportunity for UK producers like us to take advantage of the high-quality cream produced right here on our doorstep to grow the domestic market," he said. "We’ve certainly felt a real respect for our butter – a natural product with integrity, which most importantly tastes delicious!”

Around 23,000 tonnes of sheet butter is currently imported into the UK every year, almost solely from France. With UK production of high volumes of top-quality dairy, with the required high fat content for butter, and UK milk’s greenhouse gas footprint just 40% of the global average, the UK butter market is in a strong position to grow, said Mr Sinclair.

This has been reinforced in 2021 with import restrictions linked to Brexit, shortages of cream on the continent and a flood in established French producer Lescure’s factory.

  • The Edinburgh Butter Company is stocked in a number of independent retailers, as well as artisan bakers like The School of Artisan Food, Twelve Triangles and Friends in Knead; hotels including Rocco Forte’s Balmoral Hotel, Moor Hall, Hampton Manor - as well as a host of Michelin-starred restaurants through their supplier network.