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The Carolina Nut Company: Making PBJ peanuts was like a Reese’s moment

By Kacey Culliney+

12-Jun-2014

The Carolina Nut Company on PBJ flavor: 'I think we’re actually bucking a trend and creating one with peanut butter and jelly peanuts'
The Carolina Nut Company on PBJ flavor: 'I think we’re actually bucking a trend and creating one with peanut butter and jelly peanuts'

The Carolina Nut Company has rolled out a peanut butter & jelly (PBJ) peanut variety that it says bucks the trend in nut flavors and should help US expansion plans.

The PBJ flavor took around two months to develop and was launched at Sweets & Snacks Expo last month in Chicago. It was a flavor that worked naturally in the product and bucked the trend, said the company’s vice president of sales Matthew Laneve.

“For us, we thought it was a natural development, like a Reese’s moment with peanut butter and chocolate,” Laneve told BakeryandSnacks.com.

“Everybody wants to be first to be second. What we did was we trailed the big guys for a while, whether that was Lay’s potato chips or Planters, but what I think this new flavor does is get us out ahead of everybody,” he said.

While a few other companies had tried the PBJ flavor concept, he said few had lasted.

“I think we’re actually bucking a trend and creating one with peanut butter and jelly peanuts. We’re running on the leading side of this – we’ll see if Planters or anybody else tries to catch up. It will be interesting to see.”

Spice has been the trend; will sweet nuts be the future?

Most recently within the nut category, it had been spice varieties that were trending, Laneve said.

Dill Pickle, Jalapeno and Havanero were just a few spicier products within The Carolina Nut Company’s portfolio.

“We thought PBJ would be a good addition to our line – to add something on a sweeter side because a lot of our flavors are spicier,” he said.

Asked if the future for nuts was in sweeter flavors, Laneve said: “I don’t know, because everybody is into spice or pepper or vegetable. I don’t think sweeter flavors will necessarily be the future of nuts because of the health-conscious nature of the category. Nuts are a great source of protein and if you start to throw fat on top of it, it may not have lasting capabilities with the health-conscious world.”

However, he said the PBJ concept was more than just a gimmick.

“Peanut butter and jelly is a staple for most children in the US, and I think as they mature everybody still enjoys a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I do think it skews younger, females but I think men will get a kick out of it as well – get a throw-back to their youth.”

The company has developed stand-up pouch bags across its entire line

Expansion plans beefed up with PBJ and bag options

The PBJ flavor strengthened Carolina’s portfolio ahead of US expansion because of its broad appeal, Laneve said.

The company was currently focused in the Eastern side of the US but had plans to shift over to the West, he said. Within the next five years, he said the aim was to secure complete national expansion.

The company had also rolled out re-sealable, stand up pouch bags for every peanut variety in a range of sizes, from 14.5oz to 52oz club size. The bag development had been prompted by demand from retailers, Laneve said. “If you look at Target now, for example, they’ve almost gone exclusively to bags… It’s considered more eco-friendly than tins and it’s all about shelf space.”

Being able to offer both tin and bag variants should also help strengthen appeal among US retailers, he said.

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