Who Makes Kirkland Butter? (Simply Explained)

Who Makes Kirkland Butter

People ask, who makes Kirkland butter?

Some of us don’t think too hard about what we spread on our toast, dollop on baked potatoes, or savor in crunchy chocolate-chip cookies. Others track down the origin of everything that we eat. Butter is one of those household staples. Costco’s Kirkland Signature butter is an item that consumers consider a high-quality item for a low price. Here’s who really makes your favorite butter.

Who Makes Kirkland Butter?

Although Costco doesn’t produce its own products, the company has also not publicly revealed many of the big manufacturing names behind their Kirkland brand.

Savvy customers have sleuthed the internet for clues about who really produces their favorite Costco products.

According to a lawsuit filed in 2009 and dismissed in 2012, Aurora Organics makes dairy products, including butter, for the Kirkland brand.

Aurora Organics is currently the leading supplier of retail dairy products, including butter, to Costco in the United States.

In previous years, controversy emerged about the organic quality of Costco-labeled organic dairy products obtained from Aurora Organics, a Colorado mega-dairy crammed with 15,000 cows with minimal grazing options.

Read also: Who Makes Walmart Butter (Brand Review Explained!)

What Does Kirkland Butter Private Label Mean?

A private label means that the company owns the label, which enables them to eliminate third-party distributors. Costco signed an agreement with Aurora Organics to use its product under the Kirkland Signature label.

Since Costco owns the Kirkland Signature brand, Business Insider reported that the company can slash their prices by 20% compared to their other retail competitors.

Low prices from a trusted brand keep customers coming back for more.

By striking a deal with national, third-party producer Aurora Organics, Costco pays the producer a lower price for the privilege of acting as sole supplier. Costco can then sell high-quality butter at affordable prices without having to hassle with producing, packaging, or manufacturing anything.

Kirkland Signature’s proprietary trademark enables Costco to sell its branded butter online and across its physical retail locations. While you can’t find the Kirkland brand anywhere except Costco, you can find the same butter produced by Aurora Organics located under different labels (often in the original producer’s name) in other stores.

What Kind of Butter is the Kirkland Brand?

Costco uses Aurora Organics famous creamy butter for its house brand. Here are the kinds of butter that you can expect to find at Costco.

In 2021, a new Kirkland Signature butter option produced by Aurora Organics hit the shelves at Costco.

Just rolled out and available in stores last year, Kirkland Signature Grass-Fed Butter is a 2-pound block of salted butter made from 95% grass-fed dairy.

This Grass-fed Butter package packs a whopping 80% milk fat. That’s close to European butters with a heftier price takes that clock in around 83%-84% fat content.  

According to consumers, Costco butter is high quality and a steal at $17.49 for four, 16-ounce packages. Each pound comes wrapped as regular ½-cup butter sticks.

Costco carries both salted and unsalted butter block options from Aurora under the Kirkland Signature label.

A lot of consumers like Costco’s Kirkland butter since they think of “grass-milk” as a healthier option. According to research studies, cows pastured on grass and organic, legume diets instead of cattle confined in feed lots have higher levels of healthy Omega-3 fatty acids. They also report lower levels of harmful Omega-6 in these dairy products.

Read also: Who Makes Great Value Butter (Products For Walmart)?

Who Owns the Company that Makes Kirkland Butter?

There are as many layers as a nesting doll when it comes to unraveling the identities behind Costco’s private label house merchandise.

In 1976, Marc Peperzak started Aurora Dairy Operation. When the company started producing solely organic products in 2003, the largest U. S. grocery dairy supplier switched its name and branding to Aurora Organics.

The company has organic dairy farms located in Texas and Boulder, Colorado, where they produce dairy products, including butter, for the Kirkland Signature brand. Aurora also has two additional dairy processing plants in Columbia, Missouri, and Platteville, Colorado.

In past years, the company has come under fire with multiple class-action lawsuits for its questionable organic process. Food activism groups launched investigations into Aurora organic dairy products sold in Costco and other retail locations across 27 states.  

Is the Company that Makes Kirkland Butter Organic?

According to a 2017 article by the Washington Post, the dairy giant failed to meet federal standards for USDA organic dairy products. Although Aurora sold “grass-fed” milk and butter, an investigation revealed that Aurora gave their cows only very rare grazing periods.

When Virginia Tech scientists tested the milk, they discovered that the dairy didn’t have the high levels of healthy essential fatty acids such as conjugated linolenic acid (CLA) and alpha-linolenic acid typically present in grass-fed milk. These two components are linked with healthy weight management. Instead, Aurora’s dairy products seemed similar to conventional rather than organic dairy.

Despite these USDA violations, Aurora settled out of court in 2009. In accordance with the settlement, Aurora Organics underwent a probation period under the watchful eye of the USDA.

Founder Marc Peperzak maintains that Aurora never violated USDA organic standards and maintains high standards for dairy quality. 

Although watchdog group Cornucopia Institute filed a formal complaint in the state of Colorado as late as 2017, the company declared that it overhauled its organic process. It resumed operations and continues to sell butter and other dairy products in popular retail locations such as Costco.

Ultimately, if you’re interested in who makes Costco’s Kirkland butter, Aurora Organics is the name behind the Kirkland brand face.

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Lindsey graduated with an MBA in 2009. Since then, Lindsey has worked in the retail and consumer service industry as a manager, advisor, and marketer. Lindsey is also the head writer and Co-founder of Rvandplaya.com. Lindsey is based in Morgantown, West Virginia.

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