The ingenious idea to shift a whole lot of butter


When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. But what do you do when life gives you mini dishes of butter – and lots of it?

You make nougat candy.

Like most countries around the world, Vietnam’s seen its hotels close and its tourism and hospitality sector rapidly decline due to the pandemic. At the height of it all, Linda Tan, General Manager, Fonterra Brands Vietnam and her team found themselves staring at a massive stock of butter minidishes that were nearing shelf-life.

Why not sell these as breakfast butter? Well, here’s one challenge for starters: the Vietnamese don’t consume butter as part of their daily diet, and they don’t spread butter on their bread.

Luckily, the Lunar New Year – better known as Tet – was just around the corner. If there’s one thing the locals love giving and receiving during this auspicious time, it’s yummy nougat candy, ‘keo me xung’. It looks like peanut brittle but it’s sticky, chewy and oh, so addictive.

With lockdowns unleashing a new wave of home bakers, the perfect opportunity presented itself.

“We had to think differently and fast,” said Linda, a Malaysian who’s been based in Ho Chi Minh city for three years.

Linda and her team visited Bee Mart, the city’s biggest chain of bakery ingredient sales stores, watching shoppers; paying close attention to what they looked at, and what they left with in their baskets. 

“Look, we knew couldn’t change consumption habits overnight”, said Linda. “We could, however, find new ways to get people to try our product.”

The team also had to make it worth the while of their bakery store partner who was looking for ways to widen the scope of what went in customers’ baskets.

“Look, we knew couldn’t change consumption habits overnight. We could, however, find new ways to get people to try our product.”

linda tan, General Manager, Fonterra Brands Vietnam

They innovated on a traditional nougat candy recipe comprising marshmallows, mixed nuts, milk powder (NZMP), and a new star ingredient: 8 minidish squares of beautiful Anchor butter.

The store bundled the ingredients into easy make-at-home nougat kits. These took off like a storm. The go-to-market plan included Facebook live streams of cooking demos to show how butter could be the pièce de résistance of traditional nougat candy. 

“A bit of butter makes everything better,“ says Linda. “If that’s not conventional wisdom, it should be.” While Vietnamese nougat is absolutely delicious, adding a few squares of butter lifts it up a notch, giving it a smooth creamy finish and a characteristic aroma. It also helps extend the shelf life.

The end result was a sweet one.

Our Anchor Food Professionals team cleared excess stock of thousands of butter mini dishes; our partners found a whole new way of engaging with their customers; and many Vietnamese got their much-loved Tet sweet dish – made better with Anchor butter.