Pic Picot: Renewable energy should be NZ selling point

19 May 2016

New Zealand manufacturers should be skiting to the world about making their food and groceries with renewable energy, says Pic’s Peanut Butter CEO Pic Picot in the latest FGC Leaders Series video.

“A lot of countries are making their electricity by burning fossil fuel, and I think it’s a market advantage that we’ve got in New Zealand that we don’t recognise enough.”

Pic Picot founded the Nelson-based company after selling a few jars of homemade peanut butter to the local farmers’ market. He says it’s now the biggest-selling peanut butter in New Zealand, making 7000 jars a day, and is exported to Australia, the US, the UK, Europe, and Singapore, with websites covering each region.

Pic is big on sustainability, and says they get a lot of feedback from customers, particularly around their packaging.

“I’ve always tried to keep it as simple as possible and as honest as we can. We put it in a glass jar with a metal lid that’s completely reusable, and we’ve got people all over the country who are using our jars for their preserves, their jams, their bottling and the like.

“We buy our peanuts from Australia, we take them to Nelson and we roast them and squash them and send them back to Australia and to the rest of the world. People say why do you do this – surely it takes miles to be bringing peanuts across the Tasman, but we’re using hydro-generated electricity. Initially I started putting this on the label just as a marketing thing and then I realised that it’s actually very true.

“There are huge possibilities there for New Zealand manufacturers to be skiting about the fact that we’ve got all this hydro power and it’s not costing the earth anything to be making our electricity with renewable resources.”

The rise of Pic’s is a Kiwi No 8 wire story. Pic first made his own peanut butter because he wanted one with a lower sugar content. He remembered his mother and aunty making peanut butter, so he got their recipe, bought a few kilos of peanuts, roasted them in the oven and “squished them up with a bit of salt”. He blew up his cheap modern blender in the process but the result was “beautiful – a million times nicer than the stuff I’d got used to”.

“I made a roaster out of a concrete mixer and bought a bench-top grinder and a tonne of peanuts from Australia and got to work.” He was soon selling a few jars at the market, and a year later sold a batch of 48 to the local supermarket and “one thing led to another”.

FGC Chief Executive Katherine Rich says the Leaders Series is designed to expose member companies to insights and ideas of some of the leaders and thinkers within FGC, and Pic Picot’s back story is just as valuable as his thoughts on sustainability.

“He should give us all pause for thought. Here’s a guy who formed a very successful company from nothing just because he wanted different ingredients in his favourite spread. He came up with a bright idea and just got on with it. What I love about the New Zealand food industry is that innovative people can have a bright idea and give it a go.  Pic had an idea and now he exports his peanut butter all over the world.

“His is a true example of food industry innovation and passion, and he’s also managed to do it in a sustainable way at the same time, which is great.”

Speakers in the FGC Leaders Series so far have been Geoff Shaw of Saturn Group on training up talent for senior roles, Sharna Heinjus of Kimberly-Clark on sustainability, Veronique Cremades of Nestlé on health and wellness, Gerry Lynch of Mars on health and safety, and Kelly Smith on attracting and retaining staff.

Watch or link Pic Picot’s video on FGC’s YouTube channel here.