margarine history

Margarine has been around for roughly 150 years. The availability of oils and fats, food regulations and new food technologies all influenced the history of margarine. Today, margarine is one of the most healthy, tasty and sustainable sources of vegetable fat in the diet



1869 – first recipe

The first margarine recipe was written down in 1869. Napoleon III announced a competition for a spread better than butter, to feed the French army and improve the life of the poor and working classes. The original recipe was a mix of skimmed milk, water and animal fat. It was called margarine as it had the same pearly shine as pearls, from Greek margaritēs meaning pearl.

1900 – use of plant oils

Over the years, animal fats in the margarine recipe were gradually replaced by the more healthy vegetable oils and fats.

1925 – vitamin A and D fortification

Margarines have been fortified with vitamins A and D to safeguard the nutritional status of adults and children.

1960’s – low fat varieties

The 1960’s were the years, when margarine started to be packed the way we know it today: spreadable margarines in tubs and liquid margarines in bottles. At the end of this decade the first low fat (40%) margarine was available.

1990’s – virtually free of trans fats

The 1990’s marked a new direction for margarine. You can now enjoy tasty high quality margarines rich in healthy fats without having to worry about trans fats. Ongoing reformulations of the margarine recipe helped to drastically remove the trans fats.


Today’s margarine is a nutritious food, part of a healthy and balanced diet. It delivers essential fats and vitamins our body needs but cannot make. Just like any other fat, it delivers energy and gives food its taste and texture.


About us

Founded in 1958 and based in Brussels, the International Margarine Association of the Countries of Europe (IMACE) represents margarine manufacturers, producing both for retail and business to business (B2B) sectors throughout Europe. IMACE is also the voice of margarine manufacturers to key stakeholders/authorities of the European Union and other international organisations. IMACE and its Member Associations and Companies are members of IFMA, the International Federation of Margarine Associations. IMACE is member of FoodDrinkEurope, the European Food and Drink Industry Federation.

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