November 18, 2019

Country Crock Plant Butter’s Tom Wajda on Creating a Kosher, Healthy and Enjoyable Butter Alternative

Newly-launched Country Crock Plant Butter is a dairy-free, kosher, vegan, butter that is made with the oils of olives, avocados and almonds. As alternatives to dairy butter continue to grow and capture more market share, Country Crock Plant Butter stands out because it actually tastes like dairy butter.  

Tom Wajda is the Head Of Research & Development at Upfield, the company behind Country Crock. Upfield is reportedly the world’s largest plant-based nutrition company. Wajda opened up more about Country Crock’s past, present and future.

How does Country Crock Plant Butter differ from margarine and other vegan butters? 

Fundamentally, Country Crock Plant Butter is specifically formulated using proprietary technology to taste, cook and bake just like dairy butter.  Country Crock Plant Butter melts in your mouth and on your toast in a creamy, delicious way – just like dairy butter. And, you can’t find that with typical margarine or vegan butters.  Country Crock Plant Butter also works in your favorite cookie or cake recipe just like dairy butter.  With typical margarines and vegan butters, they often won’t mix in properly and don’t brown like dairy butter, but Country Crock Plant Butter does.  Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Country Crock Plant butter tastes just like dairy butter!  Typical margarines and vegan butters don’t have the same taste as dairy butter. These products don’t have the delicious, creamy natural taste of butter that you will find in Country Crock Plant Butter.

How did Country Crock get their product to taste and cook like dairy butter?

Country Crock Plan Butter is specifically formulated  to taste, cook and bake just like dairy butter.   selected plant fats and oils to mimic the way dairy butter behaves at different temperatures and in all its different usages such as: on toast, making grilled cheese sandwiches, or in baking pies and cakes.  

Additionally, in developing Country Crock Plant Butter, we analyzed the flavor of dairy butter at a molecular level, and then recreated this flavor with natural, plant-based ingredients so our Country Crock Plant Butter has the same delicious flavor of butter, but from plants not cows. 

All Country Crock Plant Butters are carefully tested in our test kitchen by trained culinary professionals to ensure they perform like dairy butter in all spreading, cooking and baking applications.

In your opinion, are plant-based foods a sustainable category? What makes it a lasting concept?

We know that plant-based foods are being craved by consumers and expect demand to rise well into the future. Plant-based foods are more environmentally sustainable than their animal based alternatives and are often healthier for the consumer. The plant-based food market is growing by leaps and bounds with the growth of plant-based food outpacing the growth of total food sales. According to data the Plant Based Food Association commissioned with Nielsen reported in July 2018, the total market for the plant-based foods sector market in the U.S. grew by 20% in dollar sales over the prior year compared to a 2% growth for all foods sold in the same channel over the previous period. Furthermore, with products like Country Crock Plant Butter that tastes nearly indistinguishable from dairy butter, we anticipate even more consumers will start integrating plant-based foods into their lifestyle. 

What are some of the foods you find Country Crock Plant Butter to go best with? Anything you’d normally apply butter to?

Country Crock Plant Butter can be swapped one-to-one with dairy butter in any recipe! Anything you would normally use dairy butter for, you can swap in Country Crock Plant Butter. It’s dairy-free and plant-based and it tastes like butter. The sticks cook and bake like cow butter as well!

Was it a lot of work to get your product certified kosher?

We worked with the Orthodox Union to certify the product kosher. It is dairy-free and plant-based so it’s actually pareve!

Was it the plan all along to be gluten-free and vegan also? Or was that an organic part of the product’s creation?

The plan all along was to create a plant-based butter that was gluten-free and vegan so consumers could make food that was dairy-free, gluten-free, and plant-based without compromising on taste.

What is coming up for the Country Crock brand in 2020?

We are focused on further growing distribution of Country Crock Plant Butter and continuing to communicate that Country Crock Plant Butter is a breakthrough product since it is a dairy-free, plant-based butter that actually tastes, cooks and bakes like dairy butter. 

Is Country Crock Plant Butter used by any restaurants in the Los Angeles area?

We are confident chefs who are passionate about including dairy-free options on their menu are trying our products and using them to make dairy-free, plant-based dishes

When not busy with Country Crock, how do you like to spend your free time? Any recent concerts?

I’m married and have 3 sons, so it’s always great to get everyone out of the house. We love camping (getting out to Maine every summer), traveling (we went to Hawaii this year) and flying (my middle son is a pilot).  When I’m visiting my son at college in Nashville, I love to go to concerts at the Listening Room Café.  The Listening Room is a great, small venue where artists and aspiring songwriters test out their new music.  They are so talented, and I love to hear the stories behind the songs. 

Finally, Tom, any last words for the kids?

Get out there and try Country Crock Plant Butter!  Hopefully, kids see now that this is an innovative product because it is really the only dairy-free, plant-based butter on the market that actually tastes, cooks, and bakes like dairy butter.  Additionally, Country Crock Plant Butter is so much more sustainable and better for the planet than dairy butter.  Taste for yourself how plant-based eating can be a truly delicious way to fight global warming!