Peanut Butter market leader at Symposium

We’re excited to have Pic at our Symposium on 7 November in Wellington, here’s his story…
In 2007 I bought a jar of peanut butter because, like you, I love the stuff. I took it home, made some toast, smothered it with the crunchy and took a big bite.
It was disgusting. Full of sugar. I had known it would come to this. Years and years and years ago when I was an idle yachtie, I rowed over to an American mate’s boat for lunch. Rick plonked a jar of peanut butter on the cabin top and I read the label. “Health Style Peanut Butter” it said.
I’d always considered peanut butter to be pretty healthy anyway, so I read on. What made this stuff healthy was that it had reduced the added sugar to it. Back then sugared peanut butter was unheard of in NZ, but I figured that one day it would have to come.
And so it did. The first of it appeared in our favourite kiwi brands in about 2005, around the same time they closed their NZ factories and moved their manufacturing to China.
But back to me and my toast. There was a Freecall number on the jar and I rang it for a moan, to be told “Most people prefer it with sugar, sir.”
My Mum and Auntie had made a bit of peanut butter when I was little. They’d both bought new Vitamizers, and peanut butter was one of the cool things you could make with them. Anyway, I bought a few kilos of peanuts, roasted them in the oven and squished them up with a bit of salt, blowing up my cheap modern blender in the process.
But the peanut butter was beautiful. A million times nicer than the stuff I’d got used to. I filled a few jars for friends, and one of my twelve year old son’s mates liked it so much he bought a jar with his pocket money.
I was fifty five, going a bit blind (macular degeneration runs in the family) and had just had to close a little laundromat that had been earning me a couple of hundred dollars a week. I figured if I could make 30 jars of peanut butter on Friday morning I could sell it at our Nelson farmers market on Friday afternoon and get my $200 back.
So that’s what I did. I made a roaster out of a concrete mixer and bought a bench top grinder and a tonne of peanuts from Australia and got to work.
Anyway, one thing led to another. In 2008 I sold 48 jars to our local supermarket and took to the road. Within a year you could buy Pic’s in 50 outlets around the country. Then we were picked up by both of NZ’s supermarket chains and suddenly Pic’s was available pretty much anywhere in New Zealand.
In the process we moved from my garage to what had been the laundry room at the old Nelson Abattoir and then to a brand new factory in Nelson’s Wakatu Estate. In 2014 we opened a new warehouse and office building down the road and a truck to tootle backwards and forwards in.
I watched a huge truck being loaded with peanut butter for Australia a few days ago, and I really had to pinch myself. It has all come as such a surprise. It’s all so much fun, and I get to meet so many lovely people.