Pic's Really Good Peanut Butter
Had your peanut butter “fix” today? A growing number of New Zealanders crave the spread on their morning toast or lunchtime sandwich – that’s the word from Pic Picot, peanut butter expert and Nelson businessman.
Pic started producing his own brand five years ago by roasting and crushing imported peanuts, and by leaving out the sugar and emulsifiers that are added to some competing peanut butters. He says "Pic's Really Good Peanut Butter" (Really Good) has met steadily rising demand among consumers who love its fresh taste and lack of additives. The product has taken off through word-of-mouth and through Pic's enthusiasm for introducing, or re-introducing, people to peanut butter through free taste tests in local markets and shopping malls.
"People treat it as their own discovery ... they tell friends and buy it to give away. With our encouragement they pestered their local supermarkets to stock it and now we are in just about every store in the country," says Pic.
Over the past year, Pic has begun supplying both Foodstuffs and Progressive Enterprises - and Really Good has joined GS1 for the numbers and bar codes which enable this to happen. The business has taken the extra step of applying a GS1-128 date and SKU-recording bar code to each carton of jars produced in its Nelson plant. At dispatch time Really Good produces bar coded courier tickets, using a standalone system provided by its transport supplier, and then scans the two codes into a spreadsheet with the consignment's invoice number. Pic says this provides full product traceability and a near-foolproof check on dispatch accuracy.
The plant, which now employs eight people, began with a converted concrete mixer for a roaster. Last year Really Good installed a 10 metre continuous oven and a fully automated filling line and it is now exporting peanut butter to Australia. The plant operates under a New Zealand Food Safety Authority approved HACCP plan audited by an independent analyst.
Pic usually sources his peanuts from the Queensland district of Kingaroy, although flooding there in recent times has necessitated a temporary switch to Argentinian supply. He has no doubt that the high quality of his product is due, in part, to the use of very fresh peanuts.
Without additives, the oil and solids do tend to separate in each jar of Really Good - and Pic recommends that consumers keep the product upside-down on their shelf. The peanut butter can easily be mixed again by hand before eating.
But why does peanut butter attract such an ardent following among people of all ages? "It's hard to know exactly why people like it so much," says Pic. "I guess it's a convenient, tasty and healthy way to get the protein we all need." He believes it also works as an appetite suppressant because relatively small quantities leave the eater feeling satisfied (and the fat content is almost all of the healthier unsaturated kind).
Peanut butter has certainly been a passion for Pic (aka "Bruce") Picot since boyhood lunches of peanut butter and lettuce sandwiches in Auckland. Pic ran a sailing school in Nelson before coming ashore to experiment with making his own product in the home kitchen. First sales were in the central Nelson's weekend market and Pic's passion still includes giving taste tests to passers-by wherever he can. In 2012, plans include taking Really Good around the country with tastings and sales from Pic's distinctive new Airstream caravan.