Butter is an essential element of French cuisine. According to the French dairy sector, 7.4 kg per person per year is consumed. Indeed, this product is a remarkable flavor enhancer, for both vegetables and pastries. It will be prominently featured at the upcoming Cheese and Dairy Products Fair, from February 25 to 27, 2024.
It takes 22 kg of milk to produce one kilo of butter, with about a dozen varieties, three French AOPs (Protected Designations of Origin), and a designation legally controlled by France and the European Union. This is the profile of butter, a product highly appreciated by French consumers and also popular internationally. In 2022, while dairy product exports amounted to 2.8 billion euros in volume, butter accounted for 8% of the total, with a near 20% increase compared to 2021.

Butter ideally complements almost all dishes, from meat to pastries, and from vegetables to confectionery. In France, butter adheres to a very strict composition definition, legally protected since December 1988. Authorities thus classify it as a dairy product, a type of water-in-fat emulsion, obtained by physical processes, with constituents of dairy origin.

It is made from creams, optionally pasteurized, frozen, or deep-frozen. The 1988 decree specified sales denominations, cream treatments, and the composition of butters and certain dairy specialties. Among the 2% of ingredients that are neither fat nor water, there are vitamins, carbohydrates, minerals, etc. It is also the only fat containing a notable amount of vitamin A. 20 g to 30 g of butter per day cover nearly 30% of the daily requirements for this vitamin. It also contains a good amount of vitamin D.
Two butter trays from two different brands

Twelve Varieties

There are about a dozen varieties of this essential product on French tables. For consumers, the most common butters are extra-fine butter and fine butter. The former is made exclusively from pasteurized cream that has never been frozen, deep-frozen, or desacidified, meaning its production started at most 72 hours after collecting the milk or cream, and 48 hours after skimming the milk. The latter contains a proportion of frozen or deep-frozen dairy raw materials not exceeding 30%.

There is also a distinction between salted butter and demi-sel butter. The former generally has a salt content of over 3%, while the latter has a salt content between 0.8% and 3%.

Three AOPs

Among other widely consumed butters are raw butter, obtained exclusively from cream that has not undergone sanitation treatment except for milk refrigeration after milking in milk tanks at 4°C for preservation; "light" butters (fat content between 60 and 62% or between 39% and 41% depending on the designation); and butter flavored with herbs or spices. Finally, aimed more at professionals, are cooking butter and concentrated butter, used especially in pastry.

However, the most emblematic are the butters with an AOP. There are three in France: Charentes-Poitou, Isigny butter, and Bresse butter. In 2022, these three represented a production volume of 38,836 tonnes, a 2% decrease compared to 2021, generating a turnover of 284 million euros. The majority of the production is attributed to Charentes-Poitou butters: they represented a volume of 30,812 tonnes in 2022, followed by Isigny with 7,463 tonnes and finally Bresse with 561 tonnes.

Butter will be well represented at the upcoming Cheese and Dairy Products Fair. Fromagerie du Buron and the company Isigny-Sainte Mère will offer their selection to visitors.

Fromagerie du Buron: Stand 7.3 G082
Isigny-Sainte Mère: Stand 7.3 A059