Fonterra Edgecumbe cream plant manager Doug Gerry with engineering project manager Will Rouse share their muddy bun face experience.
Chinese consumers insatiable appetite for 'muddy buns' has led Fonterra's Edgecumbe factory to commission a new butter line to keep up with demand. The chocolate croissant treat, also called 'dirty dirty bread' or 'zang zang bao', as they are known in China, is the latest social trend food craze to hit the country. The factory has had to nearly double its butter sheet line from 4500 metric tonnes to 7000 metric tonnes to keep up with demand from Chinese pastry chefs. It produces butter in one-kilogram sheets to make it convenient for chefs to fold the dough in the bun creation process. "The bakers love them," Fonterra Edgecumbe cream plant manager Doug Gerry said.
The sheets leave the factory and are exported from Tauranga to Shanghai and are then distributed out to the bakeries. The first butter sheet will roll off the new butter line on September 1. "It's really taken off over the last couple of years so that's why we are increasing the capacity. We've been watching demand for butter build for a number of years now. "The building part of the project started in May so it's been a quick turnaround to get it up an running." Fifteen local contractors were employed to complete the expansion at the site, which employees 380 people. The expansion will not mean any additional staff.
He said it was a boost to the local business community after a rough 12 months which suffered severe flooding damage following Cyclone Debbie. "It's a good news story for the community and everybody's happy that Fonterra has invested some money into Edgecumbe." Recently, one of Fonterra's in-house chefs copied the recipe and made a muddy bun, which he tried. His own verdict? "They are pretty rich. I don't know if people could eat a lot of them - very sweet and it's got that great butter taste."
The muddy bun craze begun after a bakery in Shanghai created the bun and the queues of people waiting to buy it was noticed by a celebrity who then shared it on social media, Fonterra general manager marketing of global foodservice Susan Cassidy said. It snowballed from there. The bun is a croissant filled with chocolate ganache, which is a combination of cream, chocolate, and cream cheese. There is more cream on top of the bun and the whole thing is dusted in cocoa. "There is no way you can eat this and keep a clean face and the online 'selfies' just drove this appetite for people to be trying it," Cassidy said.
It was soon picked up by other bakeries, who were producing their own muddy buns. Fonterra's chefs jumped on the trend. Its butter is used to make the pastry and the cream and cream cheese make the filling. "Once we saw the trend, our chefs were able to utilise all of the ingredients and drive the momentum of that trend," she said. Demand for the bun showed that demand for butter was as strong as ever. It was driven by low global stocks and consumer demand - particularly in Asia - for dairy products as people shift towards more natural products, she said.
"We just don't see that demand easing off. The trends we are seeing is that there is this appetite for butter and cream and good quality dairy products." Cassidy said they were watching closely to see what the next emerging food trend from China would be. "The pace of innovation and experimentation is so fast, particularly in China that there are things coming and going all of the time. Now and then, something just clicks and goes viral online and all of a sudden it's everywhere and that trend happens."