Climate change is the biggest global issue of our time. And we know that the actions of businesses are one of the biggest drivers of climate change.
“The IPCC has determined that in order to avoid a disastrous 1.5 °C rise in global temperatures and beyond - a rise that would see increased risk to human health and livelihood, civil unrest, mass drought, mass disease, loss of lands and homes, increased fires, increased tropical storms, mass human displacement, and globally exhausted resources - we must act with urgency.” Declaration of a Climate Emergency. Jacinda Ardern 2.12.2020. New Zealand Parliament.
We are one peanut butter company at the bottom of the planet, but we are committed to doing our bit, standing by our values and sharing our journey along the way.
Some of our proudest achievements so far are:
- Gaining zero carbon and climate positive status. This means the overall activity of Pic’s business operations reduces carbon in the atmosphere. Where our emissions can’t be eliminated, we offset as part of the community-owned Drawa project on Vanua Levu, Fiji, protecting 4,120ha of tropical rainforest from logging.
- Launching charitable trust ‘The Food Factory.’ Pic has always been passionate about connecting with our local small business community. His Food Factory is a purpose-built food production space launched in 2020 offering mentorship and support for budding local food businesses, supporting Nelson Tasman’s economic COVID recovery.
- Making life changing peanut butter. Pic has a saying, ‘no weird stuff’, which we live by. We believe in making nutritious food as it should be. Freshly roasted, lovingly squashed and made with only the finest Hi Oleic peanuts; which means we make a peanut butter with 26% pure protein per serve and 25% more good fats than non Hi Oleic peanut butter. We are also proud to be Orangutan Alliance certified Palm Oil Free[JW1].
Since my dad Pic started making peanut butter in a concrete mixer in our family garage thirteen years ago, we’ve aspired to be a business for good. Good for our community and good for our planet. Not just on paper. But the kind of good that’s never quite finished. Credible. Consistent. A life’s work of good.
Our sustainability goals
We are big believers in the power of community, especially when tackling tough challenges.
Sustainability is something we must work on together as part of a global community. For that reason, we’ve chosen to align ourselves with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Specifically, being in the food space, in Nelson New Zealand, we are focused on six core areas:
- Good Health and Wellbeing
- Affordable and Clean energy
- Decent work and economic growth
- Industry, innovation, and infrastructure
- Responsible consumption and production
- Climate action
Read on to find out exactly what we're up to and how this has become an everyday part of how we do things at Pic's Peanut Butter
Goal 3: Good Health and Wellbeing
Early on, we decided we wanted to make peanut butter using only the best Hi Oleic peanuts. Peanuts are a naturally nutrient-rich food, having more than 30 vitamins and minerals, and being high in vitamin E, copper, folate, and fiber.
Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy
We’re one of the few peanut butter companies around the world that actually roast our own peanuts - which takes some serious energy! That’s why we choose Meridian Energy for our power because all the energy they generate comes from 100% renewable sources – wind, water, and sun. They (like us) believe that renewable energy is the only way forward for the future of our planet.
Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
We started in sunny Nelson and we’re staying in sunny Nelson, so it’s important to us that we are actively involved in the local community. Our ethos is to give our people the opportunity to do the best work of their lives, playing a part in the happiness of all our employees.
To keep our leadership team accountable, we run an annual staff culture survey using an independent consultant. Each staff member is interviewed for 20 minutes on whether they feel supported, whether their ideas have been implemented, and most importantly - whether their needs are being met. The findings are presented to all of us. Our culture survey is the most honest way we can measure how our employees are doing. In our latest survey, our staff of 53 scored Pic’s an average of 8.4/10. We’re pretty proud of this, and while the chances of receiving a perfect 10/10 score are slim, we’ll never stop trying.
Here’s a list of services we provide for those working with us:
- Above Living Wage - Everybody should be earning enough to live well.
- Healthy Thriving Workplaces Workshops - With local occupational health and wellbeing provider Hemisphere Health.
- Yearly Personal Development Planning - With access to whatever materials are needed.
- Employee Organized Social Club - With a provided budget for team excursions and activities.
- Group Life Insurance - With Fidelity Health.
- Annual Health Checks and Flu Vaccines - For all staff, to promote healthy living.
- EAP Program - Free and confidential counselling service for all members of staff and their families.
- Corporate Gym/Yoga memberships - To keep us moving!
- Free Peanut Butter - No surprises there.
Last year (2020) we donated $152,804, equivalent to 7.5% of our profits, and 8,470 jars of peanut butter.
Whether it’s a school wanting to feed their tamariki every morning, a knitting club hosting a raffle, or an organisation doing really good things, we like to give for good.
We support our local Brook Waimārama Sanctuary, the largest fenced haven for endangered plants and creatures in the South Island, by donating fifty cents per jar returned to us, totaling $40,000 since 2008.
Pic’s supports UKHarvest, KiwiHarvest and OzHarvest, who reduce the negative impacts of food waste on our environment by redistributing food; helping to create lasting positive social change by nourishing those in need.
Goal 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
Pic credits the success of his peanut butter to what he learned in his time at Parnell Workshops, a collective of small manufacturers who shared skills, equipment, and Friday night drinks at a run-down warehouse in the 1980’s.
His own difficulties in finding food-safe premises to develop peanut butter convinced him of the need for a food innovation centre in Nelson. A place to let like-minded entrepreneurs develop their food businesses without signing humongous leases and buying expensive machinery.
With the support of the Provincial Growth Fund and the Nelson business community, Pic introduced The Food Factory, a Not For Profit, offering an affordable food-grade workspace and collaborative environment to develop food products and processing methods. In return for sharing skills and ideas with other users of the facility, Pic and The Food Factory Board put small business users in touch with their own networks of entrepreneurs, coaches, and funding resources.
If you dream of starting a food business of your own, get in touch - we’d love to help you: [email protected]
Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production
We have a non-negotiable commitment to quality. That’s why we only use the best possible ingredients of known provenance. What does this mean? Provenance for us is about being able to tell you everything we can about our ingredients: their place of origin, the conditions of growing, who our growers are.
When it comes to sourcing, we buy locally where possible and make an effort to minimise food miles without compromising quality. We source everything we can in Nelson, then look elsewhere in New Zealand before finally turning to international companies. This applies to everything from our graphic design, to our packaging and all the ingredients we use.
Peanuts are a naturally sustainable crop that replenishes essential nitrogen in soil depleted by other crops and demand little water.
We're pretty passionate about where our peanuts come from. That's why we're delighted to be taking the first steps towards our aspiration to create a New Zealand grown and made peanut butter. We're trialling peanut growing in Northland in partnership with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI)'s Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures and The New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research.
We’re trialing growing peanuts in three locations – Ruawai on a kumara farm, Pouto Peninsula near Dargaville, and in the Kai Iwi Lakes district. Each location has a different soil type and environment to see where the peanuts grow best. Trial peanuts were planted in late October 2020. If successful, peanut farming could bring new employment opportunities to the Northland region, alongside potentially making a very real difference to our carbon footprint. Wouldn't it be great if one day we could make a New Zealand-grown peanut butter?
In the meantime, our main source of Hi Oleic Peanuts is from our friends over the ditch in Australia. We’ve used these golden, Kingaroy grown, Hi Oleic peanuts since the arrival of Pic’s on your supermarket shelves. These guys grow incredible peanuts; however, supply is limited due to some radical changes to their climate. There is no denying it, Australia is getting hotter. The droughts in 2019 meant the peanut harvest took a huge hit and many farmers had to make the decision to grow less fragile crops for a while, affecting our supply. It hasn’t been an easy change because we’ve met these farmers, stood on their fields during harvest, and have always been in awe of their incredible facilities. Their story is a huge part of ours, so we’ll always get as many Australian peanuts as we can. Where we can’t, we look for peanuts of equal Hi Oleic quality.
Which brings us to… Zambia. The home of lions, pyramids, and as it turns out – peanuts. In Zambia, peanuts have been a staple crop for decades, mostly grown by women and sold at the local markets to supplement their family’s income. Peanuts remained a locally sold product for a long time, as the farmers only had access to old, poor quality seed that had done the rounds, as they say. Their crops typically produced a low yield making it impossible to reinvest in improved seed, irrigation, or fertiliser. It seemed there would be no end to this cycle of small crops with small returns; that was until Canon Garth came along. They recognised the potential for huge social impact by combining their background in seed development and export with the local grower’s soil expertise. Canon Garth supply world-class seeds lease land and machinery, and provide expert training before purchasing peanuts back from farmers to export. All for giving small holdings better opportunities and us really good peanuts, we introduced these peanuts to our jar in February 2020.
Canon Garth, the guys who introduced us to Zambian peanuts, also introduced us to some brilliant peanut growers in Brazil, Nilton and his father, Natalino. A few decades ago, they started selling local peanuts around Sao Paulo - a bit of a novelty, considering Brazil’s main nut crops are cashews and of course, Brazil nuts. They proved that the climate was perfect and the peanuts even better. In 2020 they realised they matched the criteria of BRCGS’s- a prestigious certification that proves they know their stuff. They look after their growers and processing staff. We began blending with these peanuts in March 2020.
In Nicaragua, we found yet another excellent addition to our jar. These peanuts sit among the finest Hi Oleics in the world and are looked after by an absolute powerhouse of a company called COMASA. COMASA is a privately owned company that employs around 850 locals to grow and process these excellent quality peanuts. Not only did we fall in love with their peanuts, but we also fell in love with their values. COMASA is very passionate about developing the communities they operate in; something we’re very passionate about here in Nelson, too. They do this with a focus on education, specialised health programmes and sustainability. We began blending with these peanuts in February 2021.
The salt we use comes from the Dominion Salt Company who have two sites: one in the South Island of New Zealand on Lake Grassmere, and one in the North Island at Mount Maunganui. It’s as simple as that when it comes to salt.
What are the peanut butter makers doing messing around with berries? Making jam, that's what - but we don't call it jam because it hasn't got enough sugar. What it has got, is boysenberries! Glen, from Tasman Bay Berries, grows boysenberries, lots of boysenberries. In fact, Nelson is the boysenberry centre of the Universe. Glen’s farm is just down the road from Pic's Peanut Butter World in Hope.
It’s not news to hear Almonds are a superfood. They are a great source of Vitamin E as well as protein, fibre, and monounsaturated fats. Any dietician will recommend eating about 30gms of nuts every day, and almonds are considered the cream of the crop for excellent heart health.
Our Almonds are grown in Australia and sourced through a company called Select Harvest. They are Australia’s largest vertically integrated nut and health food company with a mission to be the global market leader for supplying quality plant-based foods. The almonds are grown across 9,262 hectares of orchards, located in Victoria, South Australia and in New South Wales.
We started making almond butter in 2015.
We use only the finest, and that means Whittaker’s chocolate. As a fellow Kiwi family business, Whittaker’s care deeply about quality. They insist on overseeing every part of their chocolate making process, right from bean to bar right here in New Zealand. Whittaker’s use Ghanaian cocoa beans sourced from Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms, New Zealand’s famous creamy milk, and they don’t use any palm oil, or any GM ingredients.[CA1]
Our packaging broadly falls into two categories:
1. Customer facing packaging (the stuff you see on the supermarket shelf)
2. Internal process packaging (the stuff we get peanuts, jars, salt, boysenberries and chocolate in)
Customer Facing Packaging
Our customer-facing packaging is nearly all recyclable. Our glass jars, plastic jars and peanut butter pails are all recyclable. We have some work to do on the plastic tamper seals on our glass jars, which we use to maintain food safety, and the foils we use to wrap our Peanut Butter Slugs for on-the-go eating. Neither of these can currently be recycled, but we are looking into alternative solutions.
The labels on our jars are made of kraft paper. We’re currently trialling some different paper labels that look exactly the same, but are made with 100% post-consumer waste (pretty nifty) which are running well in the factory so far. The next step is to send them around the country and check how well they stay on the jars during travel. All going well we will be making the switch.
What’s better for the planet: Plastic or glass jars?
This is a raging debate in the packaging industry. There are whole conferences on it, everyone has an opinion and new materials are being developed as we speak. Currently, our smaller jars are made of glass, our bigger 1Kg jars are made of PET plastic and our peanut butter pails are made from PP plastic.
Can they be recycled?
All our plastic and glass jars and pails can be recycled in curbside recycling. Make sure you wash out your jars before recycling them (glass jars can go in the dishwasher, plastic jars need to be washed by hand).
Where are they made of and what about your carbon emissions?
Carbon emissions from freight are significantly lower for our plastic jars than glass jars. This is because our plastic jars are made in New Zealand, but at this stage our glass can’t be made here and has to be imported.
What about the single-use-ness?
Pic originally chose to put a star on our jar lids rather than any fancy marketing to encourage people to reuse them, he figured a star was pretty inoffensive in your pantry. Tip: our jars are great pantry storage and our pails make a great kitchen compost bin!
So what’s better?!
Long term, we’d prefer to create a circular peanut butter economy. Peanut butter kegs anyone?! In the meantime, we’re pushing our glass supplier to be able to supply New Zealand recycled glass jars for us to use.
Internal Process Packaging
Our internal process packaging largely consists of cardboard, which we recycle, and pallets, which we re-use or return. Our precious peanuts arrive in giant sacks, which we give to the landscape gardening company next door for reuse. We have some work to do on soft plastic bags, which we receive inside many of our boxes to protect things like lids, almonds, cashews, salt, and labels. We reuse some in the factory, and Pic has a mate who picks the odd batch up for various projects but we need a better solution long term. We are also pretty sick of plastic pallet wrap, which we do recycle, but we’re looking into alternate solutions for the future.
In Nelson, already famous for its sunshine and wine, beaches, bush and National Parks, there lies a magical kingdom where all your peanut butter dreams come true. Yes really. Between your first glimpse of the world's biggest peanut butter jar, the moment The Great Star Door swings open and you step into Pic's Peanut Butter World; your life will change forever. Walk alongside our legendary Hi Oleic nuts as they spread eagerly out on the toasty warm bed of Roasting Matilda - Pic's gleaming 25m long oven. Revel in the rousing aroma of roasting nuts as you follow their progress through the maze of pipework to a bank of high-powered grinders that transform them into your beloved spread. And there's lots more... an exceptionally warm welcome, the history of peanut butter and the unexpurgated story of Pic's - maybe even Pic himself. A cafe where locals lunch, and there is a store full of Pic's products and peculiar souvenirs.
Last year, we showed 37,000 people how to make Pic’s Peanut Butter. Come and visit us at Peanut Butter World, 49 Saxton Road, Stoke, Nelson and see it for yourself. Book a tour here!
Goal 13: Climate Action
Carbon levels in our atmosphere today are higher than at any point in at least the past 800,000 years, and this is driven by human activity (Lindsey, 2020). Businesses are some of the worst emitters of carbon and most are operating without considering the impact of their carbon emissions on our planet. In December 2020 New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declared a climate change emergency, naming climate change “one of the greatest challenges of our time.”
In April 2020 we measured our carbon footprint in partnership with Ekos, a local social enterprise to become an accredited Ekos Zero Carbon and Climate Positive company. This means the overall activity of Pic’s reduces carbon in the atmosphere.
After measuring our impact, we set reduction targets for energy, waste, water and carbon. In our first year of measuring (to the end of March 2021) we have reduced water usage by 17.5% and reduced waste by 34%. This is calculated on a per jar basis.
Where emissions can’t be decreased, we offset our carbon footprint so we have a positive impact. Our offsetting contributes to protecting 4,120ha of tropical rainforest on Vanua Levu, in Fiji. The rainforest is a pristine home for the endangered Fiji Ground Frog and several other endemic animal and plant species. This rainforest also provides valuable protection from cyclones, floods and droughts for the Drawa local and those living downstream (Ekos, 2018).
We identified our greatest area of emissions as outward freight. To begin to address this, we are looking into switching domestic road transport to sea freight where we can, and we began double-loading containers arriving with us to halve trips back and forth from Port Nelson in 2020. This is just a start. We are continuing to investigate alternative methods of transport to reduce emissions, local sourcing options to reduce food miles, and pushing for change with our freight suppliers.
We have also started initiatives to:
- Educate our customers on how to reuse, recycle or repurpose our packaging and avoid waste with our product.
- Share returned jars with community groups for fundraising, art, and preserving activity. Connecting Pic’s eaters with people who want jars via Neighbourly and Freecycle.
- Donating not-quite-perfect product to families in need via Kiwi Kai and the Oz Harvest network, as well as Predator Free and local trappers. We gave 1,550kgs last year.
- Encouraging staff to reduce car use by securing trials and a group discount for e-bikes and providing secure bike storage.
There is always room for improvement. That is why in 2020 we kicked off an audit of our current suppliers with a view to building good environmental outcomes into our contracts. We want to know that they have a plan to measure, manage, and reduce their carbon emissions too.
To encourage other businesses to become zero carbon and climate positive, we have also teamed up with our local business community in Te Tauihu. We are part of a group that our friends down the road at Chia Sisters started, ‘Businesses for Climate Action.’ Our shared goal is to take the lead in creating a zero carbon Aotearoa within a resilient sustainable economy, adaptable to both the opportunities and disruptions of climate change.