History of Soy Oil Margarine - Page 1
by William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi
A Chapter from the Unpublished Manuscript, History of Soybeans and
Soyfoods, 1100 B.C. to the 1980s
©Copyright 2004 Soyfoods Center, Lafayette, California
Margarine is a butter-like product that typically contains 80% refined vegetable oils blended and emulsified with approximately 20% milk (whole, skim, or soy), and usually fortified with vitamin A. It is widely used both as a spread and as a cooking fat.
Etymology . The word "margarine," like the food, is an invention. In the early 1800s the young French chemist M.E. Chevreul discovered that fats are composed of fatty acids. In 1813 he named one of these "margaric acid" because it glistened with lustrous pearly drops that reminded him of the Greek word for pearl, margaron or margarites . In the late 1860s when a fellow Frenchman Mege-Mouries developed a product resembling butter, he decided to call it margarine , because his product was composed largely of margaric acid. He then added the prefix "oleo," a name for beef fat derived from the Latin oleum , meaning oil, which in turn derived from olea , meaning olive tree; beef fat in purified form (olein or oleo oil??) was the principal ingredient in margarine. In Europe the term "margarine" (generally pronounced with a hard g, as MAR-guh-reen) became the standard at a rather early date (when??), but in the US "oleomargarine" was the federally defined name until 1951, when "margarine" was first allowed. The typical US pronunciation is with a soft g, as MAR-juh-run (Riepma 1970).
Overview of World Margarine Production and Consumption . Margarine was developed in Europe in 1869 and northern European countries have always had the world's largest per capita consumption. Until the late 1940s individual northern European countries were also the world leaders in margarine production, as shown in Figure ??. Interestingly, France, the historic home of margarine, has never been a major manufacturer or consumer. From 1874 (when the first national production statistics were recorded) until about 1891, the Netherlands was the world's leading margarine manufacturing country. From 1891 until 1940 Germany took the lead, with the Netherlands, the United States, and Great Britain vying for the next three places. Great Britain took the lead during World War II, as Germany's production plummeted when oil supplies were cut off. In about 1947 the US took the lead, which it has kept ever since, except from 1953-1956, when West Germany briefly regained the spot.
The period of most rapid growth percentage growth in northern Europe (admittedly on a relatively small production base) was from the late 1870s until the mid-1890s. In the US the most rapid percentage growth was from 1932 to 1954. The USSR has shown rapid growth from 1938 into the 1980s. In 1966 the world's five top margarine producing nations, in terms of total production, were the US, the USSR, West Germany, Great Britain, and the Netherlands.
Country by country per capita consumption figures, however, tell a completely different story. The top eleven countries in 1968 are shown in Figure ??. Note that the top eight countries are all from northern Europe. Note also that the US is next to last in per capita margarine consumption and last (by far) in total table spread consumption. US consumption of liquid vegetable oils, however, is relatively high. Note also that in seven of the eleven countries margarine consumption had passed that of butter by 1968. Riepma (1970) noted that at that time about one-sixth of the world's fat came from margarine and it was second only to butter in the ranking of solid fat foods. (Now??]). In many of the world's countries, including southern Europe and East Asia, margarine is not widely used. Thus, worldwide, the margarine picture is a diverse one.
Few of the world's foods have been subject to more legislative enactments, court decisions, and discriminatory legislation than margarine. Most of this was prompted by political action on the part of powerful national dairy industries. To help provide a united front against these attacks?? and to serve as a center of information, the International Federation of Margarine Associations, the world association of manufacturers, was founded in 19?? at the Hague, Netherlands, where it is presently located.
Because the history of margarine is so bizarre and so interesting, it has been very well documented, in fact better than any other food described in this book. The best history of margarine in Europe and worldwide is Stuyvenberg's Margarine: An Economic, Social, and Scientific History, 1869-1969 , published in 1969 under the direction of Unilever on the centennial of the invention of margarine. The best US histories are The Story of Margarine (1970) and "Margarine Revisited" (1980) by S.F. Riepma, president of the National Association of Margarine Manufacturers. Other important historical contributions (listed chronologically) are Katherine Snodgrass' Margarine as a Butter Substitute (1930, Stanford), W.R. Pabst Jr's Butter and Margarine (1937, New York), Martha C. Howard's "The Margarine Industry in the United States" (1951 PhD thesis, Columbia University), Charles Wilson's History of Unilever , 2 volumes (1954, London), M.K. Schwitzer's Margarine and Other Food Fats (1956, New York/London), P.N. Williams' Margarine (1965, New York ref??), Riepma's "Margarine in Western Europe" (1960), and Miksta's "Margarine: 100 Years of Technological and Legal Progress" (1971).
HISTORY OF MARGARINE IN EUROPE
The Early Years (1869-1899) . In Europe after the 1850s there were recurring shortages of butter and ensuing high prices, caused largely by expanding populations and increasingly affluent diets resulting from the burgeoning industrial revolution. Because of these shortages, butter prices in Europe almost doubled between 1850 and 1870. This created strong pressures for the development of an alternative product.
Margarine was invented in France, and there was good reason for this. Starting in the early 1800s, French scientists, led by M.E. Chevreul (1786-1889), had emerged as the world's leading oil chemists. Their discoveries opened the modern era of oil chemistry. Moreover, under the Napoleonic Wars, France's agricultural base had been weakened, so that oil shortages were worse in France than in most other countries. In 1852, France under Napoleon III had recovered its imperial status and change was in the air. Political tensions with Prussia under Bismark were increasing, making the French government increasingly anxious about an adequate supply of fats for its army and working population should a Franco-Prussian war break out. For this reason the French government took advantage of the Paris World Exhibition in 1866 to sponsor a contest?? for the development of an alternative to butter which was reasonably priced, nutritive, and had good keeping properties. The Emperor Napoleon III took a personal interest in this project.
In response to this contest, margarine was invented by the French chemist, Hippolyte Mege-Mouries. The official birthday is usually celebrated on 15 July, for on that day in 1868 Mege-Mouries applied for a French patent (No. 86,480), which was granted on October of that year. On 2 July 1869 he applied for a British patent (No. 2,157). Mege-Mouries' invention was immediately put to practical use. After Mege-Mouries was awarded his prize in 1870, he established a small margarine factory in Poissy, but production did not get underway until after the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71, in which France was defeated. In 1871 he sold his knowledge to the Dutch firm of Jurgens for 60,000 francs. (There was no patent law in the Netherlands at that time). On 12 April 1872 a French regulation was passed permitting the sale of margarine, but it was not to be called butter. That year Mege-Mouries began to sell his new product in Paris as "margarine" but it was generally sold abroad as "margarine butter." Mege-Mouries soon formed the Society Anonyme d'Alimentation with capitalization of 800,000 francs. He assigned the Society his rights and they began large scale margarine production in 1873. That same year he was issued an American patent (No. 146,012), which he sold to an American firm, thus inaugurating margarine production in the US. In 1873 and 1874 he also sold his British and Prussian patents to various buyers. Then he began work on other patents not related to margarine. Mege-Mouries died in relative obscurity in 1880.
Mege-Mouries' original margarine was vastly different from today's product, for until 1900 it was made entirely of products of animal origin and until 1906 it contained no hydrogenated oils or fats. The main ingredient was oleo oil derived from tallow (beef fat). To make margarine choice grade, edible tallow (with a melting point of approximately 49°C or 120°F) was ground and heated in water at relatively low temperature. A little potassium carbonate and the stomachs of two sheep or pigs were added per ton. The pepsin from the stomachs (enzymes were just then coming to be understood) was supposed to break down the fat tissues, aiding in extraction of the fat. The liquid fat, which floated to the surface and was decanted off, was called "oleo stock" in English or premier jus in French. This was poured into shallow pans and allowed to crystallize slowly at about 30°C (86°F). The resulting granular mass was wrapped in filter cloths and pressed hydraulically. The resulting liquid, which comprised about 60% of the volume of the oleo stock, had a melting point lower than that of the original tallow, about 31°C or 88°F. This liquid was called "oleo oil" in English, but "oleomargarine" in French. Note that at typical room temperature oleo oil would become a soft plastic semisolid, with much the same "melt in the mouth" consistency as butter at room temperature. The solid fat remaining in the filter cloths had a higher melting point than the original tallow (about 52°C or 126°F) and was called "oleostearine." Now, to make margarine, 30 kg of cooled oleo oil/ oleomargarine were mixed with 25 kg each of cow's milk and of water in a butter churn fitted with an agitator. To this was added 100 gm of macerated fresh cow's udder, which was believed to contain an enzymelike substance that promoted formation of milk emulsion in cows. The mixture was agitated at the body temperature of a cow for 2-3 hours and the resulting emulsion was then handled by the butter making process. Ice cold water was added to the churn to solidify the emulsion. The mixture was finally salted and excess water was drained, then kneaded out. The plastic mass was pounded into barrels for sale as bulk margarine. A good butterlike flavor resulted, not from the intended enzymatic digestion, but from a bacterial fermentation and souring in the milk. If the new product had not been tasty, the sophisticated French palate would not have accepted it so quickly (Schwitzer 1956). It should be emphasized that, considering the state of the art at that time, Mege-Mouries's invention was an extraordinary development. For the first time, even though by accident, it established the principle of treating fats other than butterfat with milk to produce a flavor like that of butter.
In the closing decades of the 19th century a number of improvements were made on the original Mege-Mouries process; these have been traced in some detail by Snodgrass (1930). The use of mammary tissues was abandoned when it was discovered by 1877 that a more pronounced butter flavor could be achieved by ripening or souring the milk before mixing it with the oleo oil. In 1890 the use of pure cultures of Bacterium lactis acidis was introduced in the preparation of butter and soon applied to souring of the milk phase for margarine as well. Both types of souring added lactic acid, which lowered the pH of the margarine and greatly extended its shelf life without the use of preservatives. In the early days, the margarine was solidified by running the emulsion of milk and liquid fat in a slow stream into a vat of chilled water. Improved methods of rapid chilling to give quick solidification of the fat in order to avoid the formation of large crystals and a grainy texture were introduced in the late 1870s. By 1919?? the chill roll and closed chiller were introduced. The addition of egg yolk to margarine as an emulsifier for the oil and liquid (milk) phases was introduced in a patent of 1884 (ref??). After the early 1920s soy lecithin replaced the more expensive egg yolk and also served to prevent spattering when margarine was used for frying. As early as 1873 the first vegetable oils started to be used in small quantities in margarine. Starting in the 1880s, large quantities of oleo oil for margarine began to be imported to Europe from America; imports reached 100,000 tons by 1908. To offset this increase, after 1890, tropical oils, especially the so-called "hard oils" such as coconut, palm kernel, and palm, came to be used increasingly.
Although margarine was first produced in France, starting in the early 1870s it also came to be produced in a number of other countries in northwestern Europe. Paradoxically each of these were foremost producers and consumers of butter, namely the Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany. However it was precisely in these countries that large amounts of skim milk, a by-product of butter-making, were available. And there was a growing demand for an alternative to butter among lower income groups.
The first major development outside of France took place in the little village of Oss in the Netherlands, which in 1870 was the world's major butter exporting country and the center of Europe's most important butter wholesalers. In 1871 the butter wholesale and export firm of Jurgens in Oss, realizing the importance of the margarine patent for improving the fat supply in Europe, purchased the patent from Mege-Mouries. After a few improvements in the process, the Jurgens family began margarine production. Shortly thereafter the firm of Van den Bergh, another major Dutch wholesaler and exporter, which had its headquarters in the same village as Jurgens, also took up margarine production. From these two small factories grew, in due time, the most powerful margarine manufacturing and fat processing company in the world--Unilever. Other Dutch firms soon began to make margarine so that the Dutch industry developed rapidly. Interestingly virtually all of the Dutch margarine made from 1871 until the early 1880s was exported, mainly to the United Kingdom and Germany. Only after that time did Jurgens and Van den Bergh attempt to enter the Dutch market.
In Denmark Otto Monsted started producing margarine in 1870-71. Denmark soon became the country with the highest per capita margarine consumption and the cradle of the margarine machinery industry. In Germany the first margarine plant began in about 1872 under the name Frankfurter Margarine-Gesellschaft. In 1874 production was started by the Sargs in Leising near Vienna. Norway's first plant started in Oslo in 1876 and Sweden's first was built in 1884. England's first factory came very late; it was founded in 1889 at Godley, Manchester by the Dane Otto Monsted. Prior to that time all of England's margarine had been imported from the Netherlands and Denmark. France also continued strong. By 1889 there were ten margarine factories in France, the most important being that of the Societe d'Alimentation at Aubervilliers. The earliest margarine brands were introduced in the late 1890s, with Jurgens' Solo and Van den Bergh's Vitello.
As noted earlier, the Netherlands was the leading margarine manufacturing country from the early 1870s until about 1891, when Germany took the lead until the 1940s. Total European production expanded extremely rapidly during the late 1800s, rising from about 100 tonnes (metric tons) in 1874 to 238,000 tonnes in 1900 (Lewkowitsch 1904), representing a 2400-fold increase in 26 years for a compound growth rate of about 35% a year (Fig. ??).
As these figures show, margarine caught on extremely quickly in Europe. Its initial appeal was, of course, its low price. From the 1880s until the start of World War I it probably sold for about 50-70% the price of butter. Its principal markets were found among the lower income groups in industrial and urban areas and it quickly came to be known as the "poor man's butter." Margarine came to be widely used like butter as a table spread and like lard as a cooking fat, thus obviating the need for shortening. Eventually unique table margarines and cooking or industrial margarines were developed.
The first legislative measures and government intervention related to margarine appear to have been adopted between 1885 and 1889. Margarine consumption was then expanding rapidly and agriculture was in a state of depression. The fact that margarine is made from oils and fats that have always been much less expensive than butterfat creates a peculiar opportunity and temptation for the practice of fraud; consumers may be sold margarine under the impression that they are buying butter. Moreover, the low cost of margarine has always been considered a threat by the dairy industry. These two considerations have given rise to extensive legislation governing the production and sale of margarine. In England, for example, the margarine imported from Holland had been sold for a while under the name of "Butterine." In 1887 the British Parliament passed the first Margarine Act, which prohibited this name or any other name suggestive of butter and required that the product be sold only under the name "margarine." Similar labeling laws were passed in France in 1887, and an 1897 law specified that margarine could not contain more than 10% butter and must be sold in cube form; butter was sold in brick form. In Holland in the 1880s a product sold as "Butterine" consisted of margarine mixed with butter. Detailed Dutch laws were passed in 1889. The Dutch laws, however, have always been the most moderate in the Western world, aimed simply at preventing fraud, helping consumers to distinguish between margarine and butter, and safeguarding the purity and quality of the two products. At other extremes have been the discriminative American laws which, in large part, were designed to protect the butter industry by obstructing the expansion of the margarine industry.
1900-1919. Hydrogenation and World War I . As mentioned earlier at the history of shortening, the process for hydrogenating oils was first patented in 1903 by Wilhelm Normann, a German. By 1906 Europe's first hydrogenation plant was being operated in England by Joseph Crosfield & Sons, but they apparently did not make margarine. The patent rights were acquired from Crosfield's by the Dutch margarine firm of Anton Jurgens N.V., who founded the Oelwerke Germania at Emmereich, Germania. There in 1911 they started hydrogenating whale oil. In Europe hydrogenated fats first really came onto the market around 1912 and hydrogenated vegetable oils were not generally used in margarine until after 1920. It is not clear when hydrogenated oils or fats (vegetable or animal-derived) were first used in margarine, nor by which company.
Hydrogenation played an extremely important role in the development and expansion of margarine. It released margarine from its dependence on increasingly scarce and expensive animal fats and opened the door to use of a broad variety of lower cost vegetable oils. In 1908 imports of oleo oil from the US reached a record volume of 96,000 tonnes, then fell thereafter, dropping to 45,000 tonnes after 1924 and less than 4,500 tonnes after 1934. As noted earlier, tropical vegetable oils had been used increasingly (without hydrogenation) in margarine since the 1890s, replacing tallow. After 1900 cottonseed oil, imported to Europe from the US, was used in large amounts. In 1904 Lewkowitsch stated that it was the most widely used vegetable oil in margarine; a general recipe (in England) called for 65 parts oleo oil, 20 parts cottonseed oil, and 30 parts milk to yield 100 parts finished margarine. Some butter was also reported to be used in margarine in England and the US, but the product had to be sold as "margarine." Riepma (1960) stated that by 1907 vegetable oils made up perhaps a third of the total fat ingredients of margarine in western Europe; in 1914 the ratio was around four-fifths. Coconut and palm kernel oils accounted for about two-thirds of this, and came mostly from the colonies of European countries.
The earliest known reference to the use of soy oil in margarine in Europe appeared in England, where the Daily Dispatch of 22 April 1910 reported that soy oil had enjoyed "striking success" as a substitute for coconut oil in the manufacture of margarine; Messrs. Bibby & Sons of Liverpool were selling large quantities of soy oil to margarine makers on the continent. In the fall of 1910 Germany began large scale importation of soy oil. The German soybean crush jumped from 8,000 tonnes in 1910 to 110,000 tonnes in 1913. According to Bailey (1951) the main outlet for this soy oil was the margarine industry.
The advent of World War I in 1914 caused much of the imported fats to be cut off, resulting in a sharp drop in margarine production and consumption in most European countries. German production, however, seems to have increased. In most major margarine producing countries in western Europe, the period of dropping production went from 1914-1921 or 1922, and production was cut by roughly 50%. In addition, the war led to increased usage of vegetable oils, which continued thereafter.
During this period, a number of the first books about margarine and its industry were written. These include J. Lewkowitsch's Chemical Technology and Analysis of Oils, Fats, and Waxes (1904, London), J. Fritsch's Fabrication de la Margarine (1905, Paris), V. Lang's Die Fabrikation der Kunstbutter , Kunstspeisefette und Pflanzenbutter (1912, Austria), O. Monsted's Progress or the Romance of a British Industry (1913, London), and H. van Voornveld's Die Margarine (1913, Trier??). (All but Lewk need refs??)
1920-1939. The Interwar Period . One of the most significant developments of this period was the merger of Europe's largest margarine manufacturers into a new giant company called Unilever. In the early 1900s, to get access to imported oilseeds, the headquarters of the firms of both Jurgens and Van den Bergh were moved from Oss to Rotterdam. The two competitors, then among the largest in Europe, were vigorously marketing and advertising margarine in numerous European countries. During World War I, at the suggestion of the British government, both firms built large margarine plants in England. At about the same time Planters Foods Ltd., a subsidiary of Lever Brothers Ltd., acquired the Monsted operations in England, then in 1918 opened the world's largest margarine factory in England, making some 4,000 tons (3,628 tonnes) a day. During the 1920s, in part from excess capacity in the industry, there was severe price competition in the margarine industry. As prices fell unsuccessful attempts were made by Jurgens and Van den Bergh to establish quotas and fix prices. Then in 1927 these two arch rivals merged to form Margarine Unie. Finally in 1929 Margarine Unie merged with Lever Brothers in England to create Unilever. The new company was the dominant force in the European margarine industry with market shares of 50-75% or more in many countries and hundreds of brand names.
In 1927 Lever Brothers in England became the world's first company to add vitamins to margarine. The practice became more general after 1935 in Europe and the US.
Shortly after World War I consumption of margarine, which was increasing rapidly throughout Europe, began to pass that of butter in several countries. It probably happened first in Norway in the early 1920s, then in Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, and Germany. This trend was spurred by declining prices of margarine relative to those of butter. In Germany during the 1920s margarine prices were only 33-35% those of butter and in the United Kingdom only 38-39%. The Depression of the early 1930s, however, slowed margarine's rapid advance. Butter prices dropped enough to help butter recapture some of its lost market share and a new wave of legislation and regulations rolled over Europe as butter producers sought and received special protection. In some places, these regulations took unusual forms. In the Netherlands, for example, as early as 1914, a properly labeled mixture of margarine and butter had been widely sold, even from door to door. In 1931 a Dutch law was passed requiring the addition of butter to margarine, to assist butter producers. In 1937 this law was repealed and in 1940 the addition of butter to margarine was prohibited. During the same period Denmark ended up exporting its butter almost entirely to England and became the country with the world's highest per capita consumption of margarine.
Although a fairly large percentage of the soy oil in Europe during the 1920s and 1930s was used in margarine, except in Germany, soy oil was not yet very widely used in foods. The Chinese soy oil expert Tsao (1930a) reported that "From 70-80% of the soy oil imported to Europe at present is used in the manufacture of margarine." Horvath (1935a) wrote that "In Europe soya oil is one of the preferred materials for the manufacture of margarine and samples, demonstrated at the 1928 exhibition in Berlin, were taken by experts for butter." Three varieties of this margarine contained 8-25% soy oil and 63-80% coconut or palm oil. Gray (1936) noted that in Germany most of the soy oil was used in margarine. Riepma (1960) gave figures indicating that in 1938 the largest user (other than Germany) was Denmark, which used 9,980 tonnes accounting for 16% of all oils and fats used in Denmark to make margarine. The Netherlands used 4,990 tonnes, accounting for 8.7% of the total. It is interesting to learn that large amounts of soy oil were used in margarine in Germany, because Hitler, a great promoter of soybeans, vegetarian diets, and natural foods, was antimargarine. He apparently considered it unnatural. In 1942 W. Schutaf wrote Die Margarine in Deutschland und in der Welt (ref??), which described the general margarine situation up until the outbreak of World War II and discussed the use of soy oil in Germany and elsewhere.
1940-1959. World War II and the Postwar Years. The war affected margarine production in different countries in different ways. For the period from 1938 to the year of highest (or lowest) production during the war, production increased by about 107% in the USSR, 100% in Great Britain, and 5% in Germany, while it decreased by about 2% in Norway, 60% in Sweden, 80% in the Netherlands, and 90% in Denmark (Stuyvenberg 1969). The big drops in production in the Scandinavian countries were caused by difficulties in procuring raw materials. However since butter was in even shorter supply, margarine became familiar to millions who had not used it regularly before.
Postwar recovery in margarine production was rapid; by 1949 production had reached prewar levels in most countries except Denmark. From that time until the mid-1950s, in almost every country in Europe, margarine production and consumption skyrocketed. After about 1956, however, total European production seemed to have peaked and stabilized at about 1.7 million tonnes, and per capita consumption in many countries began to level out or even fall. Between the mid-1950s and 1968, per capita margarine consumption fell substantially in Norway, Denmark, West Germany, and the United Kingdom. It rose very slightly in the Netherlands, Sweden, and Finland, and it rose sharply in Belgium and Australia (Fig. ??). West Germany remained the world's largest margarine producer until about 1951, when it was barely passed by the US. The two countries jockeyed for first place until 1957; thereafter the US took the lead and German production steadily declined from its 1956 peak of 663,000 tons/tonnes?. Increasing butter consumption in Germany caused part of the decline. In 1958 the largest number of margarine plants were in West Germany (50) followed by Denmark (43), Norway (43), Italy (34), and the UK (27). There were a total of 291 plants and 268 firms in western Europe and the UK that year (Riepma 1960). In 1957 the European countries with the lowest per capita consumption of margarine were Italy (1.3 lb per year), Switzerland (3.1 lb), and France (3.7 lb). In these countries most of the margarine was used for baking and cooking (Riepma 1960). In the late 1950s the International Federation of Margarine Associations was formed, signifying a new international consciousness of the product.
During this period, soy oil was still not widely used in margarine, except perhaps in Germany and to a lesser extent in the Netherlands, where 30-35 million lb (13,600-15,900 tonnes) were used annually during the 1950s. Goss, who studied the German oilseed industry firsthand, reported in 1944 that most of Germany's soy oil was used to make margarine, the housewife's all-purpose fat. Yet in the late 1940s a report on Technical Developments in the German Margarine Industry by British Intelligence officers stated that soy oil was not used in Grade A margarines (palm kernel and coconut oils were the main ingredients), although it comprised 4% of Grade B margarine and 16.5% of the lowest grade, C (Bailey 1951). Its low-class image was due primarily to problems with flavor "reversion," which would not be solved until the 1960s.
During the postwar period a number of new types of margarine were introduced. In Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, and Belgium, low-salt or salt-free, acidic margarines were in favor since World War II, when consumers had grown accustomed to salt-free butter. Premium brands (which contained butter in England) were offered along with standard and economy brands. There was also an increased usage of polyunsaturated oils in margarines. French margarines had to be made without the use of artificial coloring. Most countries restricted the use of butterfat to no more than 10%, but Ireland required its inclusion. In 1956 the average price of margarine in Europe was 38% that of butter.
1960-1982. The Modern Period . Over the years, margarine became very widely used in Europe in part because of the relative scarcity of butter and lard and in part because of the custom of using margarine rather than shortening for general cooking purposes. In fact many European margarines closely resemble American shortening, and some (such as Germany's Schmalzmargarine ), like shortening, contain 100% fat.
A number of works published in the 1960s (Riepma 1960; Stuyvenberg 1969) gave a good picture of the current status of margarine in Europe and in individual countries. In southern Europe, where liquid oils had long been the most widely used food fat, margarine had never become widely used. In 1972 European countries bordering the Mediterranean consumed 78% of their fats as liquid salad or cooking oils, with only 4% as margarine and 6% as butter. As one moved further northward, harder fats came to be more widely used. In the Scandinavian countries and the Netherlands, 68% of the fats were consumed as margarine and 23% as butter, with only 3% as salad and cooking oils (Lesieur 1976). Individual per capita margarine consumption figures for leading European countries are shown in Figure ?? and, in conjunction with butter and total table spreads, in Table ??. Note in 1968, the last year for which we have data for all leading countries, the large margarine consumption in the Scandinavian countries compared with that in the US. In Norway, Netherlands, Denmark, and Sweden margarine consumption was at least twice that of butter, and total per capita consumption of the two spreads exceeded 50 lb (22.7 kg) per person, compared with 16.1 lb (7.3 kg) in the US. In France, however, butter outsold margarine by a ratio of 3:1. The margarine there could only be sold uncolored, i.e. white (Riepma 1970; Miksta 1971). Western Europe's total margarine industry remained the world's largest, although its percentage of the total, due to rapid growth in other areas, had steadily declined, from 100% in 1872 to 75% in 1900 and 1925, to 62.5% in 1950. It first dropped below 50% of the world total in 1957, and was only 39% in 1965.
As shown in Figure ?? per capita margarine consumption in most European countries during the 1960s and 1970s was decreasing. In the countries with the highest per capita consumption (except for Sweden) it was generally decreasing the most rapidly. The reasons for these declines is not clear.
Generally speaking (as shown in Fig. ??), in countries where the price of margarine was low relative to butter, margarine's share of the total margarine-and-butter market was large. However, there were many exceptions to this rule. In countries below the diagonal line in Fig. ??, such as Switzerland, France, Italy, and Finland, margarine's market share was considerably lower than what would be predicted on the basis of its price relative to butter, whereas in countries above the diagonal line, the market share was higher than expected based on price alone. Note, for example, that in Spain, where margarine and butter sold for the same price, margarine had 80% of the total market. In the two countries where margarine was less than 40% as expensive as butter (Netherlands and Norway), margarine had captured over 80% of the market.
During the modern period a number of interesting new margarine products were introduced in Europe. A low-fat margarine, known generically as halvarine and containing only half of the regular amount of fat (40% vs 80%), was introduced in the Netherlands in the mid-1960s. Per capita consumption in the Netherlands climbed from 0.6 kg a year in 1970, 3.1 kg in 1975, falling to 3.0 kg in 1977. This product was marketed for its low calorie content and healthfulness. (Also during the 1960s products sometimes known as Half Butter were introduced to Scandinavian countries as a way of lowering the saturated fat content of butter. They were mixtures of equal parts butter and polyunsaturated vegetable oils.) During the 1970s margarines with nutritional claims of no trans fatty acids appeared and were advertised as such. In most of Europe, the addition of antioxidants to margarine (such as BHA and BHT) was generally prohibited.
In the period after 1960 and especially during the 1970s there was a dramatic increase in the use of soy oil in European margarines?? As recently as 1960, when coconut and palm oils were the most widely used, Riepma was able to write "Soybean oil does not at present appear to be as well accepted in Western Europe as many other oils--perhaps partly because of unfamiliarity, although technical reasons are advanced; but this attitude may change." It changed rapidly as technical developments during the 1960s significantly improved the quality of the oil (see Chapter 47), and rapidly increasing exports of soy oil and soybeans to Europe plus extensive promotion of soy oil by the American Soybean Association led to better familiarity and acceptance.
In about 1963 the Soviet Union passed West Germany to become the world's second largest margarine producing nation. Although the czars in Russia prior to the 1917 revolution did not promote margarine, production from the few relatively small factories doubled from 18,000 tonnes in 1900 to 36,000 tonnes in 1917. Early Communist regimes, however, saw in margarine a low-cost food that the masses of people could afford, so they encouraged its production. Production leaped upward after 1950 and continued its rapid rise during the 1960s, when it was increasing at a rate faster than that of any other major country (Fig. ??).
The main factors that will affect the future of margarine in Europe are its price relative to butter, its ability to attract consumers interested in decreasing their consumption of saturated fats, its image during the ongoing debate concerning the safety of trans fatty acids, and its ability to increase its market share in southern European countries.