A ButtaNutt sachet – a perfect running companion
01 January 1970
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Brad Brown: You’re listening to Old Mutual Live, great things start here, great things start now. Our next guest has got a fascinating story, I can’t wait to share it. I was introduced to their product and I’m trying to think where it was. I can’t actually remember where it was, but you always come across pretty cool things in goodie bags at races. I know for a fact it was in a goodie bag, I can’t tell you what race it was from, but it was a sachet of nut butter and it was delicious.
Since then I’ve absolutely fallen in love with the product and just been digging into how the company started and where it came from. I think it’s going to be a brand that’s going to be around for a long time on South African business landscape. It’s a great product if you are into endurance sports and I know there’s been a lot of talk around low carb and high fat and what’s good fats and what’s bad fats.
Particularly with the movement around Professor Tim Noakes. But I can tell you, this stuff is amazing and I’m talking about a company called ButtaNutt. We’re joined now by one of the founders, Antoine van Heerden. Antoine, welcome onto the podcast, thanks for joining us today.
Antoine van Heerden: Thank you very much Brad, thank you for your time. I appreciate being here, it’s quite an honour, thank you.
BB: Antoine, tell me where your fascination with creating this stuff came from, where did it all start?
AVH: Sure Brad. I was travelling through Mpumalanga in 2012 and came across a little ‘padstal’ Mpumalanga is macadamia country. South Africa is actually the leading exporter of macadamia nuts in the world and Mpumalanga is sort of like the hub. Came across a jar of macadamia nut butter.
I was having it on my toast, in my muesli and yoghurt and even spooning it out the jar. To my frustration couldn’t find any of this spread anywhere at a retailer. I was at the time studying in Stellenbosch and like I said, couldn’t find it anywhere. Decided I’m going to try and make it myself and from there I took it to the farmers market and started selling it at the little local farmers market on Saturday mornings.
Great interest in real nut butters
BB: And the rest, as they say, is history. Obviously there’s still a long way to go. but you guys have grown phenomenally over the last few years.
AVH: Yes, thanks. Humble beginnings, farmers market, trying to convince people to buy a better for you peanut butter made with almonds and macadamia nuts. Since then we have grown to over 500 stores, we’ve just listed with Pick ‘n Pay.
Went through their small entrepreneurship programme called the Boost your Biz and have just listed with 150 of their stores. We’re also in Spar and Montagu and Melissa’s, so yes, I think it’s definitely a very exciting space, is the health food space and it’s great to be a part of that.
BB: Antoine, you mentioned creating a better for you nut butter as opposed to peanut butter. The truth of the matter is, not all nuts are created equal are they?
AVH: Yes, I guess you could say that, definitely. Peanuts, it’s a legume, it’s a ground nut. Obviously we all know that almonds are really high in antioxidants and a good source of protein. Macadamia nuts are also very healthy, it’s full of omega 3’s, it’s cholesterol free and cholesterol lowering and also full of Vitamin E.
Nuts are really healthy, it also depends on how you prepare it. We oven roast it instead of most nuts in the industry that’s actually kind of deep friend in sunflower oil or some sort of cooking oil and then it’s a very simple process. We just blend it up in a food processor, package it really nicely and then that’s history, that’s ButtaNutt.
A range of tastes to look out for
BB: It’s amazing and obviously you were playing around with different flavours and obviously with the different types of nuts. As far as your range goes, what sort of variants have you got available right now and are you working on others? What’s the deal?
AVH: Yes, Brad, we have six flavours, most of them are macadamia based, but we do have an almond. We have a honey flavour, we have a cinnamon, macadamia. Our newest one is a rooibos coconut macadamia which is sort of like, it gives a nice South African story. It’s also made with raw nuts instead of roasted, so exploring that side of the market as well.
Like you said, we also sell them in a 32 gram squeeze pack, which is just as good in a kids lunch box as it is in a cycling back pocket or a trail runners backpack as well. Then we see a very big opportunity in healthy snacking, better for you products. Looking at that space, so where we can add value in the snackification category, if we can call it that. Where people just aren’t really sitting down for lunch, they’re on the move all the time and they can find snacks, but it’s mostly not really that healthy. We’d like to contribute to that, becoming a healthier snacking product.
BB: The uptake within the running community and ultra sport community and we can talk cycling/running or whatever, but has it been well received. Particularly with the likes of, I mentioned the whole Banting movement and people moving towards the low carb, high fat. This is a great, you mentioned the little squeeze packs, as an alternative to almost like a gel on a long ride or a long run. Has the uptake in that space been pretty good?
Sports people love using the product
AVH: Yes Brad, it has been very good. I think part of that is also to do with how our co-founder, Dan Hugo. He used to be a South African Xterra triathlete, which is the off-road triathlon events and he travelled the world. He also said: Nut butter is pretty big in the US, so I guess that helped a lot with exposing the brand to the healthy sporty crowd.
We’ve had amazing stories; one is Charné Bosman who did win the Comrades and she had quite a few of our sachets en route, so while she was racing. Also we have a bit of a social media presence and a guy called Nino Schurter, he’s the Olympic Mountain Biking Champion, he instagrammed a photo of our ButtaNutt. So he comes and trains in Stellenbosch every year and apparently that’s the first thing he asks for when he arrives here, so that’s pretty cool.
We use it a lot, obviously on long rides it’s great, you only want so much sugar if you’re doing an Ironman or so. It’s great to have something that’s high in protein, full of good fats that keeps you full for longer and it’s just like a slow release of energy instead of a sugary gel.
BB: I love them, I think it’s fantastic and so often we get the question here, people asking and looking for alternatives to gel. Because eight hours into a Comrades or 10 hours into a Comrades, they’re thinking to themselves, gee, if I have to have something else that tastes like a gel or a sweet like that, they’re going to go off their head. I think the ButtaNutt is a great alternative to that.
Obviously it’s something you want to train with first, you don’t want to try it on race day for the first time, but they are fantastic indeed. Antoine, obviously you guys are growing from a business perspective, you’re in more and more retailers, it’s great news you’re going to be in so many Pick ‘n Pay stores very soon as well.
So I think if people want to try your product out, they’re going to be a lot more widely available now across the country and obviously you guys have got details online. You mentioned the social media profile, if we want to find out more about you, where can they get in touch with you?
How to find out more
AVH: Thanks, we’re on Instagram, ButtaNutt Spread, on Twitter, we’re also at @Buttanutter and please go visit our website, www.buttanutt.co.za. One thing that I would like to mention, if you do buy our spreads for the first time, just remember that it’s a natural product, it’s got no stabilisers in, so you have to give it a stir, there’s some oil separation.
But you can just stir that with a spoon or a knife. If you have a squeeze pack, you just kneed and squeeze before opening and our favourite way of having ButtaNutt is on nice warm toast with a bit of coconut shavings and strawberries and bananas.
BB: Mines straight out of the bottle!
AVH: That’s honest.
BB: I tell you, I can’t get enough of it, I have to tell you Antoine, it’s fantastic. Thanks for your time today, much appreciated and we look forward to watching, I think it’s a great South African business story and I think it’s going to grow from strength to strength.
I love hearing stories about South African businesses doing well and yours is obviously one of them. Best of luck for the future and hopefully this will give you a bit of an injection in the running space. Thanks for chatting to us today.
AVH: Brad, thank you very much, I appreciate it and I’ll see you on the trails soon.