Meridian Dry Roasted

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Dry Roasted Peanut Butter Meridian Foods

For its first foray into flavoured nut butters, Meridian opted for pub favourite dry roasted peanuts. A recipe of 95% skin-on peanuts, 4% yeast extract and 1% salt deliver its authentic flavour, says the brand. “It’s proved to be incredibly popular with consumers as it has delivered a savoury option in the breakfast spread category, offering a protein packed alternative to yeast extract and traditional nut butters,” says sales manager Darren Robinson.

The nation is going nuts. Sales of nut butters have soared in 2015, driving triple-digit growth for some speciality brands.

The biggest winner is Meridian, which has seen sales rocket £4.2m (155.2%), thanks a combination of NPD (see below), distribution gains and marketing trumpeting the health benefits of nuts. Meridian sales manager Darren Roberts says this will continue.

“We’re incredibly excited to be launching Coconut & Peanut and Coconut & Almond Butters in January,” he says. “These new lines combine all the natural goodness of two of the hottest superfoods with a touch of honey.”

The health trend is at the heart of the surge in high-protein nut butters, says Jeremy Hudson, CEO of Hain Daniels, owner of Britain’s biggest peanut butter brand Sun-Pat, up 4.9% after suffering 2.2% dip the previous year. Not that shoppers are necessarily spreading their nut butters. “There’s a great opportunity for us to talk about occasions to eat Sun-Pat - not just on bread or toast, but as a dip with vegetables or as an ingredient in smoothies,” says Hudson.

Convincing consumers to eat its spread on a wider number of occasions has also been central to Nutella’s £4.1m gain, says Ferrero customer development director Levi Boorer, pointing to its £1.4m Pancake Day campaign.

“Nutella’s huge affinity among consumers can be attributed to its uniqueness, relevance, versatility and its significant marketing investment each year,” he says, adding that a campaign that offered personalised jars had been so successful it’s repeating the activity in the run up to Christmas.

Old-fashioned jams and marmalades, however, have been on a downward course. Tiptree recorded double-digit value growth across its spreads, partly a reflection of the enduring popularity of honey, yet saw a slump of 3.8% in sales of its jams. Bonne Maman was one of the few brands to buck the trend with 6.7% growth, thanks in part to sampling campaigns and its premium cues.

It isn’t all bleak for traditional preserves, insists Scott Goodfellow, director at Tiptree owner Wilkin & Sons: “We believe there’s growing interest in provenance and quality, and a continuing surge in traditional home baking. We will continue to focus on offering top quality conserves, while developing products in new categories, such as Salted Caramel Spread.”

A Paddington movie promotion in late 2014 helped to buoy sales at Hartley’s, famous for its thick-cut marmalade, with only a marginal dip in value of 1%. NPD will be crucial going forward, believes Hudson: “The brands that achieve growth will be the ones that succeed in standing out from the crowd.”Byline