Butter is one of the most versatile ingredients out there; you can use it to prepare steaks, bake cookies, as a bread spread or even as a carrier spices to taste your food. To lift a modest amount of fat, ButterBae.Co (ButterBae) makes kombu (edible algae) butter, bougie butter that mixes with kombu marinated in spices, for example, shoyu, dashi, and even caviar.
On how it could be used, its founder Samantha recommended: “On bread, thick layers of crackers, tossing them on steamed vegetables, on top of seafood and grilled meat, adding it to your favorite pasta sauce or as a finishing touch your hot bowl of soup. ”
She added that customers also baked Wellington chicken and beef with their caviar butter to create fine dishes at home.
A real blue gourmet
The creator of ButterBae is a housewife in Penang and a self-proclaimed real blue gourmet who lives to eat. It wasn’t until the MCO that her head chef was revived, realizing that other gourmets like her want better dishes again. This was related to the increase in the number of Malaysians who baked bread at home during the lockdown.
“I thought it would be interesting to start a line of butter that we would enjoy (as a spread) with homemade baked sourdough, because I noticed that many talented bakers also came out after MCO,” she recounted.
Learning how to make butter was a personal journey, Samantha shared. She followed videos and recipes online to acquire the skills of making a basic butter combo. “I recognized the healthy properties of algae in general, but also that it gave butter and food a sensitive rush of minds,” she explained.
Once she realized, she began experimenting with her own flavors, developing recipes to produce variations like caviar, truffle and truffle butter. Moreover, it also prepares vegan butters to cater to that market segment that may not have much choice.
After countless trials and errors, she began sharing samples among her friends, who then persuaded her to start selling the products. That’s how ButterBae was launched in August 2020.
Who eats this Bougie butter?
“We believe our butters are really for everyone, we have a lot of little fans but also older ones who enjoy as well as gourmands,” Samantha told the Vulcan Post.
Typically used in gourmet cooking, Entier French Dining in fact one of the first Malaysian companies will fill umami butter for the duration of the MCO. The diner sells its kombu butter at a price of RM60 for 3 jars of 80g.
As for the ButterBae spread, a 100g jar can cost between RM18 for the original Kombu butter and RM38 for the truffle caviar. Other variations include truffle bacon (RM 23), Miso Kombu butter (RM19) and Vegan Kombu spread (RM18), to name a few.
When ButterBae was first launched, they were often compared to a restaurant that helped educate the public about such a product. On the downside, he exposed Samantha to competition.
“We’ve always tried to advise customers to have an open mind while trying out our products,” she said. To preserve her place in the market, Samantha tries to maintain the consistency of her butters by making them in small batches. Unfortunately, this leads to other problems.
It’s like delivering a COVID-19 vaccine
Among the other challenges that followed the sale of such a product was convincing customers to even buy butter, given their shelf life of just a month. Moreover, customers are advised not to stockpile, as product quality will deteriorate if kept for too long.
So, Samantha has to patiently explain that butters are made without preservatives and stabilizers, which helps clients gain confidence in the spread.
But that’s not all. As the news spread, customers from KL also gained interest, which posed a new problem for Samantha: shipping. Selling refrigeration products requires refrigerators to deliver them between states, which is not cheap.
For example, orders up to 3 kg by courier from Butterworth to KL cost around RM30. Within Penang it would only be around RM12. Therefore, it would make sense for interstate customers group shopping, where communities can consolidate their orders and share shipping costs.
This was the problem Samantha faced during the lockout when interstate travel was banned. When she wasn’t, she personally traveled to KL monthly with butter in an ice cooler and persuaded customers to pick up or lalam products from a central location.
To me, this doesn’t sound like a sustainable way to handle business logistics in hopes of growing. But if Samantha’s plans work as intended, it will eventually provide delivery partners and warehouse retailers who can reduce shipping and travel costs to make products more accessible to customers.
However, for now, her methods seem to be working. With loyal customers filling her with butter every time she empties the jar, ButterBae sold 2,080 jars in late March 2021.
Credits for featured images: Samantha, founder of ButterBae.Co