“The nut butter space is definitely exploding. The speed of innovation on this category has only accelerated in the last few years and shows no sign of slowing down, evident from the various start-ups that have popped up recently,” Naijia Huang, senior brand manager for Hain Celestial Group, told FoodNavigator-USA.
But, he said, MaraNatha’s new products standout from the competition because unlike many alternative products “we are not putting lots of inclusions or artificial ingredients … into the almond butters, but rather showing off the natural awesomeness of the almond by varying the roast profiles.”
He explained that the brand’s Light Roast “is made using a blanched (skinless) almond, making for a silky smooth texture unlike any other product we make. Its roast profile straddles our raw almond butter and our classic roasted almond butter, but has a unique natural sweetness to it.”’
He noted that while blanched almond butters exist, they are generally roasted for longer – creating yet another point of differentiation for the product.
The Dark Roast, on the other hand, is roasted at a lower temperature for a longer time, he said.
“We push it to the edge, ensuring that it doesn’t become bitter or charred, while harnessing all the rich, robust roasted notes that comes from our unique small batch roasting process,” he explained. “Our Dark Roast also takes advantage of our artisanal small batch roasting process, which is difficult to imitate!”
The new products also create different usage occasions, Huang said, explaining, “Both are great for sandwiches or straight out of the jar. In my opinion, the Light Roast is better paired with something sweet, like honey, fruit or fruit preserve. The Dark Roast is best eaten with bread, a bagel, English muffin, or any starchy product for those who like savory spreads.”
In part because the two products are ideal for different uses, Huang said MaraNatha believes consumers “will pick up one or both jars depending on the diverse palates that may exist within one household. Driving additional purchase of MaraNatha using a unique flavor that our competitors don’t have,” giving the brand incremental growth.
And finally, Huang said MaraNatha is hopeful that the new product launches will engender stronger brand loyalty the same way that different roasting styles have done for the coffee segment.
“Coffee connoisseurs seem to be extremely particular about their preferred roast profile – and are fiercely loyal to them,” he said. “We felt that among nut butter connoisseurs, this obsession must also exist!”
The new products hit store shelves in July and Huang says the best place to find them is at Walmart, where the brand secured national distribution for the Light and Dark Roast Almond Butters.