AAK acquires aquafaba-fueled plant-based 'butter' brand ForA: Butter: 'It can act as a 1:1 replacement for dairy butter'
Developed by New York based startup Fora Foods, which was founded by Andrew McClure and Aidan Altman in 2018, ForA:Butter has been steadily gaining traction in the foodservice market, but also has a small presence in retail at accounts including Thrive Market.
Made from a palm oil-free blend of cocoa butter, sunflower oil, coconut oil, and coconut cream, ForA: Butter (formerly known as Faba Butter) is billed on the AAK website as “incomparable to margarine and equally enjoyable compared to dairy butter, especially in croissants" and something that can serve as "1:1 replacement for dairy butter, especially in technical laminated doughs and at industrial scale.”
AAK, which has been manufacturing the product for Fora Foods, said it was a “very good fit to our plant-based expansion with premium plant butter products and will provide an addition complementary to our Green Oasis plant-based product line.”
Fora Foods co-founder Aidan Altman, who has secured funding from backers including New Crop Capital, Blue Horizon, and RXBAR founder Peter Rahal over the years, said he couldn’t speak to AAK’s motivations or future plans, but said ForA:Butter stood apart in the emerging plant-based butter set thanks to its unique functionality and flavor profile.
“We’ve gone through hundreds of different iterations to get where we are today. The cocoa butter and coconut cream have that really nice fat profile and provide a similar melting point and smoking point to butter and then the aquafaba is a way to tie it altogether and emulsify it, but also creates a unique kind of umami flavor profile.”
What is butter?
According to FDA standards of identity, butter must contain 80% milkfat, while margarine must contain 80% fat but it doesn’t have to come from milkfat. Vegetable oil ‘spreads,’ meanwhile, typically contain up to 40% water.
Some commentators have argued that plant-based brands such as Miyoko’s and Kite Hillare flouting standards of identity by using term the term 'butter' to describe products they claim should be labeled as margarine or spreads as they do not contain 80% milkfat.
However, a judge handling a high-profile legal spat between Miyoko’s and the State of California over its cultured vegan butter recently ruled in Miyoko's favor.
In his August 2021 ruling, Judge Richard Seeborg acknowledged that the standard of identify for butter stipulates 80% milkfat, but said the question at issue was whether Miyoko’s use of the word ‘butter’ in close proximity to terms such as ‘vegan,’ ‘made from plants,’ and ‘cashew & coconut oil spread,’ amounted to misleading commercial speech. And the State of California, he argued, had not made that case.
The State was basically arguing that federal ‘butter’ labeling standards deserve “a sort of constitutional credit for old age: because the statute has been on the books for ninety-odd years, it must be especially reflective of what consumers understand ‘butter’ to mean," said Seeborg.
"This logic, which finds no footing in the State’s cited authorities, defies common sense. Quite simply, language evolves."
Amanda Howell, senior staff attorney at the Animal Legal Defense Fund, told FoodNavigator-USA: “It's always been our position that standards of identity for things like butter or cheese don't really apply to plant based dairy alternatives.
"No vegan company or plant based company is presenting a product as just ‘butter’ or ‘milk,’ so they’re not running afoul of standards of identity for these terms - some of which were set back in the 1940s [to tackle adulteration]."