The spread brand, owned by global consumer company Upfield, confirmed to The Independent that from mid-October it would be adding buttermilk back into the recipe of its Flora Buttery product “following consumer feedback”.
In a statement, the brand said: “At Flora, we take pride in our plant-based products which are consistently evolving to meet consumer needs and provide everyone with choice. Our overarching goal is to encourage everyone to adopt a plant-based diet.
“However, having listened to a significant number of consumers who miss the familiar taste of buttermilk in Flora Buttery, some customers are not ready to join the plant-based journey yet and are seeking an alternative product.”
As a result they have reversed the Flora Buttery recipe to include a “small amount of buttermilk”, which is “clearly labelled on the front of the new pack”. The new variant will no longer have the Vegan Society’s certification logo.
But some customers are not happy with the move with many tweeting their disapproval and setting up a Change.org petition, which has received nearly 5,000 signatures since Thursday night.
Samantha Neal, who started the petition, said: “Let’s come together to let Upfield know that this isn’t what their customers want!”
Comments on Twitter included: “I will no longer be buying your products Flora and converted my whole family so will inform them to support an alternative. To be a pioneer and step back like this is terrible especially as we face ecosystems collapse etc.”
Another said: “Some people don’t want to join the plant milk journey yet?! What a load of rubbish. Unless you tell them they most likely would not have noticed and only complained once they found out. Most people I know can’t even taste the difference between vegan and non-vegan products.”
“What a backward decision? I work in a vegan cafe and we use huge tubs of your product. Vegans, lactose intolerant & non-vegans all loved it, there’s no need to change the recipe? We’re being urged to vastly reduce meat & dairy consumption, you take this step? Bloody daft,” said another.
Others said they would no longer buy Flora: “Time to find a new spread and it won’t be any of your products, backwards decision.”
In a statement responding to the criticism, Flora said it knew that “some customers may find this news disappointing”.
“We understand some of our consumers are disappointed about our recent product changes. We remain 100% committed to developing plant-based foods whilst providing consumers with the best possible choice.”
Flora still sells Flora Plant, a vegan and dairy-free alternative, and Flora Original and Flora Light also are certified vegan and dairy-free.