Manilife Snack Pots

Peanut butter startup Manilife has secured more than £350k in funding as investment interest in the nut butter category continues to boom.

The craft brand, made using peanuts from a single Argentinian farm, smashed its £300k crowdfunding target in less than 24 hours as it gathers funds to spread brand awareness.

Manilife, which was launched in 2015 by Stuart Macdonald, is listed in Marks & Spencer, Holland & Barrett and Booths.

Cash from the successful Seedrs campaign will be predominantly directed into recruitment and marketing, in order to grow brand awareness with increased sampling.

Quarterly sales to August 2018 grew 300%, Macdonald said, as the startup launched new products and rapidly grew a foodservice arm.

The campaign offered investors a 12% stake valuing it at £2.2m. Manilife secured £250k in its first crowdfunding campaign in April 2017.

Late last year, former Booths boss and now Harrods food director Chris Dee joined the brand as chairman.

“In the last six to eight months we’ve seen that when people try Manilife they will trade up to us,” the founder said.

“Also, when people who claim not to like peanut butter try it, between 30%-40% become peanut butter consumers. Therefore, the majority of the money is going into sampling and getting the brand to more consumers. “That means recruitment, so we’ve been ­hiring so we will have the right size team which will allow us to move quicker. We’re also having a redesign of our branding, particularly for the on-shelf product.” The brand is one of a string of disruptor brands in the category which have seen rapid sales, with total nut butter sales up 17.1% last year [Kantar].

In April, competitor Pip & Nut secured a seven-figure cash injection from private investors to underpin ambitious growth plans.

Fellow fast-growing peanut butter brand Meridian, which saw sales growth of 35% in 2017, was purchased by Northern Irish consumer company SHS Group in February 2018.

The deal saw Meridian’s parent company, 3V Natural Foods, owner of soft drinks brand Rocks, purchased for around £50m.