SVP and CMO of Re- Foods, an Olam company, Venaig Solinhac, believes the sector offers significant growth prospects, but called on brands to do more to boost its profile.
“People don’t want peanut butter due to factors like allergens. They want alternative nuts. There are alternative nut butters in the market, but the consumers do not know such healthy, sustainable ones exist. The challenge is to develop the category by increasing awareness of the segment and the existing nut butters. We as brands must make sure of this,” said Solinhac.
The global food and agribusiness conglomerate, under its direct-to-consumer (D2C) brand Re-, has launched two nut butter SKUs around early August 2022 in Singapore. The almond and cashew butters are claimed to be natural, clean-label and sustainable and come in 180g reusable glass jars. They retail at SG$12.90 (US$9) and are distributed via supermarket chain Fairprice Finest, Lazada’s RedMart and its e-commerce site refoods.com.
“The glass jars are 100% reusable and recyclable. It’s a challenge as conventional nut butter packaging is not recyclable,” she said.
Pioneering product development
The Re- brand was launched in March 2022 after two years of research involving 600 consumers. Its nut range features Australian almonds and Vietnamese cashews in flavours like rock salt, pepper, seaweed and honey sesame.
The brand intention was to tap into three major trends – traceability, sustainability and health. The nuts used are natural, responsibly grown and traceable to the farms that produce them using an in-house tracking system.
Based on the positive response from the first nut range and conducting extra R&D on another 300 consumers, Olam decided to produce the two spreads from nuts farmed in the same countries and manufactured them in Malaysia.
On shelf life and product stability, Solinhac said they are good for nine months, but further research and development (R&D) is currently undertaken to push it to 12 months.
“It is still early days for the three retail channels to be talking about sales. But the channels say the reception has been very positive. We also expect time for consumers to pick up the product. We are launching these two first and observing the market response. If it’s good, we’ll definitely look for new flavours. It has been our diligence to come up with new flavours. We’ll give it two to three months to develop,” she said.
She added food firms from other South East Asian countries had come forward to distribute the Re- nut products. The expansion could occur as early as Q1 2023 in the region, but the exact markets are yet to be confirmed. For product development, the brand will launch two new flavours, chilli pepper and coconut. Subsequently, the brand plans to launch its novel nut bite range in espresso and orange flavours in November 2022.
“For Asia, I can say that Asian consumers want natural and sustainable products. They are willing to (impact) the planet (positively) through what we eat. We hope to have more consumers eat good and do good. As a brand, we also want to produce more tasty products for our consumers,” said Solinhac.
Proteins, probiotics and healthy ageing are major focus areas of our upcoming Growth Asia Summit in Singapore from 11 to 13 October. Check out big-name brands, international experts and pioneering start-ups slated to present here.