A Dutch startup, first mover in the space of animal based butter alternatives, says to have made the best ingredient to replace butter in traditional pastry-making, improving taste and flavour of croissants, scones and cakes. It’s a low processed plant-based and pastry-chefs are buying into it.
Dutch but Barcelona-based Be Better My Friend started its journey in 2019, when pastry-chef Marike van Beurden approached at then Global Director at the premium chocolate brand Barry Callebaut Group Joost Lindeman to propose creating a new product directed exclusively to the pastry professionals.
“There were no good alternative to dairy butter. Either you compromised with flavour, quality workability or price, or the combination of these elements,” Lindeman explained, as he joined the project to revolutionize the sector for the next-generation of pastry professionals and chocolatiers.
During the COVID-19 crisis, supported by a food scientist, the two co-founders were able to develop and launch the perfect plant-based butter alternative for artisanal and industrial use, with the balance of components required to deliver a stable product.
No Engineering, infinite scalability
It took the company one year for the coconut butter prototype to reach perfection, and the market. Such speed in product development relied on its limited ingredients and simpleprocessing methods.
The non-cow butter is low process and does not require innovative food tech, rather focus on the perfect ingredients blending, making it easy to scale its production. “We were able to find a production partner that also believed in the concept and then they transformed the recipe into an industrial resume making sure that can be produced, it’s stable, it’s consistent,” said Lindeman referring to the Dutch-based company Royal Smilde Foods.
The product has as well a longer shelf life – three months – compared to the dairy alternative. “And we do not receive subsidies,” Lindeman joked, adding that the price of their plant-based butter has been comparable to the dairy product for quite some time.
There is as well an environmental advantage: a kilogram of BBMF butter saves 9.5 kilograms of carbon and 260 litres of water.
Easy swap for perfect pastry
The business initially started with a targeted google advertisement campaign directed towards pastry chef, who were invited to learn more about the product, and get a sample. In less than three years, BBMF has gathered orders from pastry professionals from over 15 countries, especially in the United Kingdom.
Pastry professionals and confectioners are enthusiastic about this product as it offers the same quality results in end products, and workability. Among those endorsing the product figure Jordi Roca of his three Michelin-starred El Celler de Can Roca, Sweet Arts World Champion Johanna Le Pape and pastry chefs working in hospitality or owned bakeries.
For pastry professionals however, the easy swap happens due to another quality: its ‘tastelessness’ and ability to transport flavor. “We did not want to copy the dairy flavor,” said Lindeman, who knows a couple of things about flavors, having worked in many cocoa and chocolate projects while at Barry Callebaut Group.
“Often if you’re working with ingredients like chocolate, cacao, fruits or spices, those soft flavours are being completely hidden by the dairy butter flavour,” Lindeman explained, adding that their alternative has the ability to increase flavor intensity of those ingredients added to the pastry mix, rather than eclipse them.
As the company believes that replacing animal-based butter in dessert creation is beneficial to the pastry category as a whole, Be Better My Friends does not aim to have an impact on ‘vegan’ chefs, but rather distrupt the whole pastry world.
Just this spring, the startup participated in a 12-week Incubator program hosted by the international organization ProVeg. In this program, 13 of the most innovative food tech startups learned everything they need to know to start and grow their businesses.
The programme concluded on June 20 with a Demo Day, where the 14 companies shared their unique businesses and plans for the future to investors and Be Better My Friend won the competition. “We are the first movers, but we need to keep competitive advantage,” said Lindeman, adding that now that the company is more visible, the opportunity of investments are getting consistent.
The plant-based butter is now available at our distribution partners in 15 markets including UK, France, Spain, Greece, South Korean and Japan, while soon expanding in Australia.
The company has said it has no problem with its ability to satisfy small to big sized customers, but for now it wants to focus on its B2B strategy: “We like to be close to our costumers, who are mainly pastry professionals, but we don’t say no to retailers” Lindeman concluded.