MELT Organic finds white space in the sluggish spreads category

By Elaine Watson contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Palm oil, Coconut oil

Partially hydrogenated oils are being phased out by many margarine and spreads brands, but many shoppers still see them as ‘highly processed’ and less 'natural' than butter, and sales are going backwards. MELT Organic, by contrast, is still growing at a triple-digit pace five years after launch. So what’s its secret? 

It’s partly about ingredient choices and taste, says CEO Meg Carlson, who says consumers love the brand’s blend of organic oils: Fair for Life Fair Trade certified virgin coconut oil, Rainforest Alliance certified palm oil, canola oil, flaxseed oil and high-oleic sunflower oil.

We have a product that delivers the taste, texture and flavor of butter but is completely plant-based with fruit-based sources of fat, with virgin coconut oil as the lead ingredient.”

Big food has an image problem

But it’s also about branding and perception, she acknowledged, noting that in every category of the store, from carbonated soft drinks to breakfast cereal, big legacy brands are struggling, even where they are making an effort to reformulate (click HERE ​and HERE​), because consumers are looking for something new, and have a general suspicion of ‘big food’, justifiably or not.

“Younger Millennials and parents don’t have the same level of trust that their parents did in food companies and large brands,"​ said Carlson, who was speaking to FoodNavigator-USA at the Healthy & Natural Show​ in Chicago last week.

"When we went into the market we wanted to be the product of choice for this next generation of parents who are looking for products that are good for you and good for the planet, but are also fully transparent.”

In many retailers the amount of space allocated to this category has been shrinking

Retailers, meanwhile, are rethinking space allocation in the category, which is losing space to faster-growing adjacent categories such as yogurt and kefir, she said.

“In many retailers the amount of space allocated to this category has been shrinking, which means that it is even more important that retailers are careful about which brands they carry.

“Total sales are declining in the double-digits so retailers are actively seeking alternative products to source and our brand is the fastest growing brand out there in butter substitutes. We have a very strong story to tell and it’s a way to get these Millennials, parents and future parents to have a product that works for them.”

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The MELT Organic​ brand - owned by Boise, Idaho-based Prosperity Organic Foods, Inc and launched in 2011 - is certified organic, kosher pareve and Non-GMO Project Verified and made with fair trade, organic virgin coconut oil and Rainforest Alliance and Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil Production (RSPO) certified organic palm fruit oil.

The products are also trans fat-free, gluten-free, dairy-free and soy-free. 

Ingredients list, Rich & Creamy MELT Organic:​ Expeller-pressed organic oil blend (virgin coconut oil*, palm fruit oil, canola oil, high-oleic sunflower oil, flaxseed oil), water,  sea salt, organic-compliant natural flavor, tocopherols, sunflower lecithin, organic annatto.

*Fair for Life Fair Trade certified ingredient at least 20% fair trade content. 

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"In many retailers, the amount of space allocated to the butters and spreads category has been shrinking, which means that it is even more important that retailers are careful about which brands they carry.

"Total sales  are declining in the double-digits so retailers are actively seeking alternative products to source and our brand is the fastest growing brand out there in butter substitutes."

Meg Carlson, CEO, MELT Organic

Probiotic MELT Organic​: We’ve had a very high degree of interest from retailers

The most recent product launch from the company – Probiotic MELT Organic – is a first for the category and an exciting one for retailers keen to see consumers trade up to more premium options, said Carlson.

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The product contains Ganeden’s BC30 probiotic strain, said Carlson, chosen because of its resilience, and the strong body of science behind it (BC30 has been shown to support immune health at 500 million CFUs  - colony forming units -  and digestive health at one billion CFUs). More importantly, before any product utilizing BC30 goes to market, Ganeden conducts tests on the final products to ensure that they contain the level of BC30 claimed, rather than making assumptions based on its performance in similar products, she said.

And this gives consumers reassurance that they are getting what they pay for, she added.

It was only launched in January but we’ve had a very high degree of interest and great response across all channels. Our distribution network across America is currently about 8,000 stores and about 4,000 have already said yes to Probiotic MELT Organic.”

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