"Mantequilla" in New Zealand?
August 20, 2019 6:04 AM   Subscribe

It looks like (at least some) butter in New Zealand (like this) is referred to as "Mantequilla". This looks suspiciously like a Spanish word to me, but my quick Googling isn't turning up a reason why the New Zealanders would refer to it this way. Does anyone know where this comes from?
posted by anonymous to Food & Drink (13 answers total)
This packaging is bilingual, English and Spanish.
posted by theora55 at 6:21 AM on August 20, 2019 [5 favorites]

But why would they have bilingual packaging? Is New Zealand exporting to Spanish-speaking countries? There aren't too many of those in the neighborhood.
posted by madcaptenor at 6:27 AM on August 20, 2019

Anchor brand dairy products are sold in dozens of countries around the world, so their packaging is often bi- or trilingual.
posted by pendrift at 6:28 AM on August 20, 2019 [6 favorites]

They most likely just use the same packaging for every country to save on costs so the packaging is bilingual. Welcome to the global market.
posted by wwax at 6:46 AM on August 20, 2019 [2 favorites]

Heh, I would never even notice this in the US, but I suppose we're a partly Spanish-speaking country with a bunch of them in the neighborhood.

None of the regions/countries listed on the Anchor site are predominantly Spanish-speaking, but they basically have global distribution - the company is owned by Fonterra, New Zealand's largest company, which has 30% of the global dairy exports (and has distribution in Chile under the Soprole label). So . . . not super surprising that they'd have Spanish labels.
posted by aspersioncast at 7:02 AM on August 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

Oh also, relatedly, a bunch of Fonterra's milk comes from Chile.
posted by aspersioncast at 7:11 AM on August 20, 2019

I can't say with authority that this plays a part, but NZ is a pretty tiny market - only some 5 million people - so it makes a lot of sense not to customize packaging for sale there (maybe unless the same product is definitely intended for sale in other countries with similar Englishes).
posted by trig at 7:28 AM on August 20, 2019 [3 favorites]

The measurements on the package are dual US/metric measurements -- it's a "16 oz (454g)" package of butter -- which leads me to believe that this particular packaging and product is not really intended for a New Zealand domestic audience.

New Zealand is pretty much fully metricated, so butter for the New Zealand market is normally both labeled solely in metric units and sold in round metric quantities*, like this 500g stick of Anchor butter, these 500g sticks of Mainland butter or these 250g and 400g sticks of Westgold butter.

*To clarify: butter in the US is universally sold in 4oz (113g) sticks and multiples thereof, so you get quantities like 8oz/226g and 16oz/454g of butter. However, in the UK, Australia and New Zealand, you can see that butter is pretty much universally sold in rounded metric quantities, i.e. most commonly in 250g and 500g quantities and sometimes in 300g/400g quantities, with not an ounce in sight.
posted by andrewesque at 7:32 AM on August 20, 2019 [2 favorites]

New Zealand is a dairy exporting powerhouse, at least relative to its size. There are more cows than people in the country, and - in a story that many MeFites will appreciate - the country grew its industry by mandatory supplier ownership of dairy manufacturers (in coop structures) since the early 20th century. These cooperatives grew into the New Zealand Dairy Board in the early 1960s, which was run by farmers and set export policy for the sector. In the early 21st century, the NZDB merged with the two biggest cooperatives to form a single behemoth cooperative called Fonterra, which owns Anchor (the manufacturer of the butter in your picture) and is apparently responsible for 30% of global dairy exports (presumably through the acquisition of other companies, since that’s more than the size of the NZ dairy sector).

Dairy is NZ’s largest export market ($14 billion) and only 4-5% of production is consumed internally. So, while the butter was almost certainly produced in NZ, given the relative importance of export vs import, it’s unsurprising that the butter might be packaged in more than one language - depending on the labelling requirements that it complies with (a big deal in international trade), it could be sold in various different English- or Spanish-speaking countries.

So the question is which Spanish-speaking country?

The nearest possibility is the Philippines, to whom NZ exports $0.6 billion of goods, mostly dairy, per year (it could also be a particularly thoughtful nod to the 50,000 strong Filipino community in NZ, of course).

Otherwise there’s LATAM and the USA to the east, regions with whom NZ has a surprisingly small trading relationship (characterised by the NZ government as “a lot of untapped potential”).

And of course the final possibility is Spain. This page suggest that the majority of NZ’s butter (as opposed to whole milk, milk powder, cheese, etc) goes to Europe.

So my guess is that Plan B for this butter, if it hadn’t reached an NZ supermarket, would have been a refrigerated container to either the Philippines or Spain.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 7:45 AM on August 20, 2019 [13 favorites]

Anchor butter has had a very strong presence in the Philippines* for decades; I still remember the jingle from the 1980s TV commercial. The trilingual (English/Spanish/French) packaging used there now is the same as for the rest of the Pacific Islands. Hong Kong and Malaysia have the same packaging.

*an English-speaking former Spanish, then US, colony.
posted by pendrift at 8:15 AM on August 20, 2019

In Mexico, you can find butter--mantequilla--from France and Denmark in Walmart, and from New Zealand in other stores. (I know, weird, but on the other hand, Mexican butter is weird. Mexican butter sold as sin sal (unsalted) has salt listed as one (or more) of its ingredients. If it weren't for butter from halfway around the world, I wouldn't be able to make ghee.)
posted by bricoleur at 11:11 AM on August 20, 2019

Anchor cheese and butter are sold in the Caribbean, where many islands have Spanish as a main or secondary language.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 8:12 PM on August 20, 2019

Because I haven't seen it explicitly said yet - Anchor butter is not packaged that way here in NZ. If you go into your local supermarket, Anchor packaging is just in English (and looks very different to the picture you posted). I have some in my fridge right now!

I go to a shop on the other side of town that sells 'seconds' of food, stuff that's going to expire in a week or stuff that was destined for overseas but never quite made it. I've never seen butter, but I've seen stuff like peanut butter that I know is a Kiwi brand but has Arabic writing on it.
posted by BeeJiddy at 11:08 PM on August 20, 2019

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