Lawrence Bennett, founder of NUTJAM, describes how the company came about and its vision for the future of peanut butter in the UK.
After sitting quietly on UK shelves for nearly 100 years, peanut (and tree nut) butters have exploded in popularity across the UK over the past few years. With this, a category historically dominated by a few sugary and heavily processed products has seen new brands popping up on an almost monthly basis, all trying to distinguish their own particular combination of nuts and salt.
Until a few years ago, the only decision to make was between crunchy or smooth. Now, we come with a preference for roast profile and country of origin.
It was amongst this expansion that we realised this could really only be the beginning. Whilst the pushback against palm oil and hydrogenation has been an important step and the return to quality ingredients and simplicity has shown people how delicious good peanut butter can be, the humble peanut has far more potential still. This is how NUTJAM came to be.
NUTJAM began with a real love for peanut butter and an experiment to see if it was possible to replicate the thick, creamy, spreadable texture of hydrogenated peanut butters without processing or palm oil. We achieved this after much experimentation with our Traditional Crunch peanut butter, but at the time did not realise how much further we were destined to take this.
The hobby quickly snowballed into an online business with a small but loyal following of peanut butter fanatics. We built out a range of unique, artisan peanut butters that took the classic peanut and salt combination and, by blending in a few carefully selected, quality ingredients, created unique peanut butters such as Cinnamon Raisin, Banana Swirl or Salted Date. We committed to never using dairy, refined sugar or palm oil and always the highest-quality natural ingredients.
As well as new creations for peanut butter fans, we are aspiring to convert the historically disinterested to our peanut butter army by developing a range that has a variety suitable for everyone.
The notion that the UK needs more peanut butter variety is not so far-fetched when you consider that although the nation leads the way in Europe when it comes to annual peanut butter consumption (103,000 tonnes vs 92,000 in Germany and 72,000 in France), we pail in comparison to the US, which consumes twice as much as the whole EU combined, an amount equivalent to around 3.5kg of peanuts and peanut butter products per person.
Although peanut butter may have taken off here in recent years, there is still a long way to go before we can say we have exhausted all the ways this amazing food can be spread, baked or drizzled. In fact, less than 40% of UK households even buy peanut butter (the number is closer to 90% in the US). With so many new potential fanatics out there, we had to spread the word about how amazing peanut butter can be.
The response to NUTJAM has been amazing, and whilst we fight to try and keep all our varieties in stock, they do occasionally sell out. We sell mostly online and occasionally through the shops that approach us, but we have been trying to get out and about to markets across London to meet today’s peanut butter fanatics and try to convince those who aren’t yet converted to try some and see if we can change their minds.
Our favourite part of the journey so far has been seeing strangers try NUTJAM products for the first time and catching that unguarded initial reaction as they taste something more delicious than they were expecting. We know we have another fanatic on our hands.
We have a long way to go, but as long as we are enjoying the journey, we won’t be resting on our mission to convert every UK household to the potential of peanut butter.
Some of NUTJAM’s peanut butters contain honey and are not suitable for vegans.