The plant-based foods brand Flora, announced this week that from mid-October it would be adding buttermilk back into the formula of its Flora Buttery product. The company decided to change the product recipe "following consumer feedback".
In a statement, the company said: "At Flora, we take pride in our plant-based products which are consistently evolving to meet consumer needs and provide everyone with choice. Our overarching goal is to encourage everyone to adopt a plant-based diet.
"However, having listened to a significant number of consumers who miss the familiar taste of buttermilk in Flora Buttery, some customers are not ready to join the plant-based journey yet and are seeking an alternative product."
The new product will no longer be vegan and the packaging will not have the Vegan Society's trademark.
Since the announcement, Flora has been criticised for the decision by thousands of customers expressing their disappointment on social media.
On the Internet, you could find comments like this one: "This was a total step backwards - come on Flora, you can do better, for plant based & lactose intolerant customers and more importantly for the animals."
One person wrote on Twitter: "I will no longer be buying your products Flora and converted my whole family so will inform them to support an alternative. To be a pioneer and step back like this is terrible especially as we face ecosystems collapse etc."
Another person wrote: "What a backward decision? I work in a vegan cafe and we use huge tubs of your product. Vegans, lactose intolerant & non-vegans all loved it; there's no need to change the recipe? We're being urged to vastly reduce meat & dairy consumption; you take this step? Bloody daft."
One of the customers, Samantha Neal, set up a Change.org petition, which has been signed by 7.500 people so far (Friday afternoon).
She said: "Let’s come together to let Upfield know that this isn’t what their customers want! Please sign if you believe Flora Buttery tastes great without the dairy!"
Flora responded with a statement: "We understand some of our consumers are disappointed about our recent product changes. We remain 100% committed to developing plant-based foods whilst providing consumers with the best possible choice."
Other products of the brand such as Flora Plant, Flora Original and Flora Light are still certified vegan.