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Saturday 25 June 2022

Pic’s wins with NZ-grown peanut trial

28th May 2021 By Monique Steele | | @foodtickernz

Pic Picot is a step closer to fulfilling his ambition to sell a 100% New Zealand peanut butter following the completion of a successful crop trial in Northland.

Pic Picot

The Nelson-based entrepreneur, who founded the popular Pic’s Peanut Butter brand, teamed up with Ministry for Primary Industries, Plant and Food Research and Northland’s economic development agency to test the feasibility of growing the subtropical crop commercially in Te Tai Tokerau.

With encouraging trial results now in – and expanded planting the next step – Picot may soon be able to claim that his nut butters are made of peanuts grown and processed in Aotearoa, not South America or Africa.

“It’s hugely exciting because at the moment, we spend $10m on importing nuts and to be able to spend that money in Northland [would be] wonderful,” Picot told the Ticker.

Picot said that the business currently imports around 3000 tonnes of peanuts a year from Brazil, Nicaragua and Zambia – formerly Australia too – for around 25 products which are sold domestically and exported to Australia, Asia, the US and the UK. About half of sales were in exports, primarily to Australia and increasingly China.

The company, which had annual revenue of $30m last year and comprised around 40% of New Zealand’s peanut butter market, has made six jars of “very limited edition” Pic’s Peanut Butter from the small trial crop harvested and dried last month in Kaipara near Dargaville.

A crop of peanuts has been successfully grown in Northland.

“It tastes up well,” Picot said, “and it’s been really wonderful to be working with the farmers and growers.”

Picot added that should commercial crops be established, he may need to invest in establishing a base in the region, which would sit alongside its Nelson-based factory. That factory pumps out around 20,000 jars a day and since 2019 included a $10m visitor experience, Peanut Butter World.

“It will be a 5000 tonne crop by the time we shelf it. We may have to build a processing facility,” he said, although added there was a long way to go before New Zealand-grown peanut butter would hit the shelves.

The success of the high yield Spanish cultivars planted in October means that scientists and local council are keen to proceed with a trial of commercial-scale peanut crops in farm locations around the far north.

“The trials produced promising results,” Plant and Food business manager Declan Graham said.

“Yields for three of the four cultivars were at the upper end of the range that Australian irrigated farms produce – our trials were also irrigated.

“It’s very encouraging – we’ve got good yields and we’re quite enthusiastic about progressing it and certainly a lot of people up north are very supportive of progressing it.”

Plant and Food was working to identify suitable sandy soil locations and ideally secure four assessment areas for the expanded plantings which would be undertaken next year.

“We’ve got to figure out where to do this and this is what the team was doing [on Wednesday] – trying to find the right properties and the right collaborators. There’s quite a bit of work to do still,” Graham said.

Greg Hall, project manager of Northland’s economic development agency, Northland Inc, said the agency was helping with the search for suitable locations which would enlarge the trial sites tenfold, from 100 square meters to around 1000 square metres.

“We’re in negotiations for potential sites in the far north. We’re in the process of identifying sites and speaking with land owners,” Hall said.

The $91,320 trail project was led by Picot Productions, with the government’s Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures contributing more than $59,000.



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