One butter to rule them all?

Kerrygold butter 

If you have read a baking book published in the US in the past ten years, chances are you have come across the word Kerrygold. The Irish butter has become the most popular European-style butter in the United States, and many bloggers and cookbook authors swear by it. Eater explains how a butter from Ireland grew to be the second-most popular brand here, second only to the domestic Land O’Lakes. 

The story begins in 1962, when Ireland’s largest agri-food cooperative looked abroad to expand its brand. After considering other names including Leprechaun, it settled on Kerrygold and launched a campaign to convince cooks around the world to use its product. It didn’t reach the US until 1998, but once it gained a foothold here the brand has never looked back. 

Kerrygold chose to follow an unusual distribution model in its early days, bypassing the traditional broker network and instead hiring interns to travel across the country. These brand ambassadors provided free samples and relayed valuable feedback to the home office. 

The richly-colored butter also benefited from good timing. Its attributes of being grass-fed, all-natural, and hormone-free resonated with cooks exploring the origins of their food. Improved understanding of nutrition also played a role, as dairy fats shed the negative stigma that had plagued them for decades. People were turning from margarine to butter just as Kerrygold gained a foothold in the market.

Today you can find Kerrygold almost anywhere, from major supermarket chains to food cooperatives to mom-and-pop grocers across the country. Bloggers and television cooking hosts like Martha Stewart extoll its virtues. Although the field has become more crowded in the last 20 years, Kerrygold remains the ‘gold’ standard for butter.

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  • amc  on  April 20, 2018

    To learn more about Ireland's dairy cooperative, visit the Butter Museum in Cork, Ireland. Yes, there is such a place, and it is a delightful little museum.

  • darcie_b  on  April 23, 2018

    That sounds like fun!

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