Food & Drink

Beurre necessity— Echiré


The Echiré cooperative has been churning out butter for more than a century. It must have been doing a good job too, as some of the world’s best restaurants won’t use anything else. Monocle looks at what makes Echiré a better butter.

Echiré, butter

The butter of choice in the French president’s Elysée Palace and Michelin-starred restaurants around the world comes from a small cooperative dairy in Echiré, a tiny village near Poitiers, in western France. They’ve been making butter here for more than 100 years and the dairy has built up an international business that today generates a €35m annual turnover.

The secret seems to be the quality of the milk – which all comes from nearby farms. The particular quality of the local terroir is what produces the butter’s unique flavour. This milk is…


1894: La Société de Laiterie Coopérative d'Echiré is created.
1994: The cooperative qualifies for an ISO 9002 certification (now working for an International Food Standard [IFS] certification).
2005: Merges with the Coopérative Agricole de Sèvre et Belle. Renamed as Coopérative Laitière de la Sèvre.


Florent Geay, commercial director

Who are your customers?
Mainly cheesemongers and restaurants. We sell to wholesalers who supply individual businesses and we have approached supermarkets too.

How can a dairy farmer join the cooperative?
You have to be in the right geographical zone [a 50km radius] and conform to strict specifications laid out in a quality charter. For example, your cattle feed mustn’t contain any genetically modified crops and hygiene measures must be followed.

The butter way


It is perhaps fitting that the world’s only dedicated Echiré butter shop should be in a city where exclusivity, quality and gastronomy are highly regarded: Tokyo. Situated in Marunouchi Brick Square, a retail plaza in Tokyo’s business heart, the tiny dairy/boulangerie is operated by Echiré importer Kataoka Bussan, who initially ­regarded the venture as a gamble. It was one that paid off – about 500 customers visit Echiré Maison du Beurre each day.

“When we opened in Brick Square last September, the entire complex opened at the same time, so all the TV cameras were here,” says marketing manager Emi Fukuda. Since then, the queues have kept on coming, with the most popular item being the Echiré-rich croissants – the ovens behind the small counter bake 500 a day and they sell out within hours.

The store is ­operated in collaboration with one of Tokyo’s most highly regarded boulangeries, Viron, a long-time Kataoka client that uses Echiré butter in its own croissants and pains au chocolat.

“The Japanese tend to use margarine as a spread – we didn’t think many people would know Echiré,” says store manager Mariko Yamaguchi. “But there’s a new awareness about pure, natural foods.”

Tokyo is not likely to see another Echiré outlet, though. “For anyone who’s buying a gift, it means so much more when it’s something rare,” says Fukuda. “There’s enormous value in having just the one store.”

Echiré Maison du Beurre
2-6-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku
+ 81 362 699 840


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