“We’re not in town, people must make a special effort to come and see us,” says general manager Stuart Macintosh.
The flourishing regional company has a well-articulated origin story. Founder Pic Picot says in 2007, he was horrified to find his peanut butter had sugar added to it. He recalled his mother and aunt making peanut butter in their blenders at home, so he recreated their recipe: “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.”
Despite the loss of the blender, the peanut butter was a roaring success, and Picot started selling a few jars at the Nelson farmers’ market. A year later, he sold a batch of 48 jars to the local supermarket and “one thing led to another”.
Pic’s Really Good Peanut Butter is now sold in supermarkets around the country and has just entered Australia. Macintosh says retail sales from the stall Pic’s retains at the Nelson market and its factory shop only make up around 1 percent of annual profit, but retailing has become part of Pic’s publicity.
The brand has always prized transparency, he says. Macintosh thinks that as consumers grow increasingly removed from the chain of food supply, they’re more and more interested in learning how products are made.
In addition, the Pic’s brand has a strong personality and enjoys high engagement from its customers.
“We think it’s important that our customers see [Pic’s peanut butter] being made and have an understanding of how it is made.”
More than 800 people went on the Pic’s factory tour over two weeks in the last school holidays.
Barely a year since moving into a new factory and head office in Wakatu Estate, Pic’s is about to open a second new factory building nearby. Part of the space is used for separate equipment associated with Pic’s newest venture, almond and cashew butters, but the company is also looking to use the new factory to further develop its tour programme.
A new staff member, who is a former schoolteacher, has been hired to concentrate especially on the tours.
“Pic is really keen on them,” says Macintosh. “We’re building a ‘peanut central’.”