Pic's peanut butter empire spreads rapidly

TRACY NEAL
Last updated 13:37 19/03/2014
Pic Picot
MARION VAN DIJK/FAIRFAX NZ
PEANUT ENVY: Despite steadily growing sales around the world, the real test for Pic Picot is acceptance of his peanut butter among the lucrative gourmet realm.

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A Nelson business that started with a $10,000 concrete mixer and a tonne of peanuts has flourished into one of the region's best business success stories.

Founder of Pic's Really Good Peanut Butter, Pic Picot, believed the Nelson "branding" was increasingly valuable for the interest the region generated among potential customers, and for the simple reason Nelson had good freight and transport infrastructure at its doorstep.

The six-year-old peanut butter company is about to celebrate two big milestones, including the millionth jar about to come off the line at the factory in Wakatu Estate.

The company has expanded to the stage it needs extra space and has taken on the head lease of nearby premises it will share with PBT [Peter Baker Transport].

Picot began making his own peanut butter from home after he discovered that sugar was added to product he bought from the supermarket.

He started selling it at the Nelson Farmers' Market to make up for the $200-a-week income he lost when his laundromat closed.

The factory is now producing 7000 jars a day mainly for the domestic market, and turnover this year is expected to hit $5 million. About 20 per cent of what's produced goes overseas, mainly to Australia from where the peanuts are sourced.

Picot said turnover had been doubling each year, and at the moment there did not appear to be any limit on growth.

The company now employs 16 staff in production and administration, and there are also plans to convert existing premises in Wakatu Estate into a "peanut themed attraction", en route to making Nelson "New Zealand's peanut capital".

"I want to see it the best selling peanut butter in the world, but we have some competition coming along."

Picot said Nelson held a lot of appeal to outside customers, which he had learned through running various other businesses, including a boat charter guide.

"When I first came here [from Auckland] I was doing the charter guide and cold calling, and it was a real advantage being here.

"If I'd had to say, ‘Hi, I'm Pic from Penrose', they wouldn't give me the time of day, but when I said I'm Pic from Nelson, people would stop and listen."

The business had recently started producing a peanut oil, which was popular in Asian cooking. Pic's peanut butter was also a key ingredient in an award-winning chocolate and peanut butter gelato, and was now being used in Auckland gourmet cookie brand Molly Woppy.

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Picot said despite the statistics that proved it was a success, the real test for him was acceptance among the gourmet realm.

"When I see it on fancy platters next to the olive oil I know we'll have made it.

"We have enthusiasm, we are unstoppable."

- Nelson

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