Insight, advice, news and chit chat

ManiLife Peanut Butter

A peanut butter entrepreneur - Stuart Macdonald - Founder of ManíLife

When I met Stuart and heard his story, I had to try his peanut butter. Luckily he had brought a jar with him to that BNI breakfast meeting! So I bought it off him.
Can you believe it, I have since met up with him twice to get 2 dozen jars, and given them to friends and family. People call it “Peanut Butter Crack”
I was interested by the story to begin with, and I promise you this peanut butter is AMAZING. Below – my interview with Stuart.

Who are you and what is your business?

I’m Stu. My business is ManíLife Peanut Butter. An absolutely f*cking delicious peanut butter brand that was inspired by a 10 month stint working for a peanut butter social enterprise in Argentina.
Stuart Macdonald - Founder of ManíLife

Tell me 5 unique things about your peanut butter.

  1. We know the farms from where our peanuts come. I have been to the farms, know the farmers, and can personally attest to the quality of their processes and the quality of their characters.
  2. We only use the highest grade, Argentine, hi-oliec, whole peanuts – This doesn’t sound like much but the majority of peanut butter is made with reject nuts from the snacking market – when I first visited one of our farms in Cordoba it was actually difficult to persuade the owner that I wanted his best peanuts for peanut butter – he said no one would tell the difference – The jury’s still out but I’m pretty confident they can!
  3. We make small batches frequently, as opposed to massive batches infrequently – something made possible by having The ManíFactory. The batch size enables us to keep a better hold on, the roast, the texture and the size of our crunch – something that all ManíLifers will agree is unbelievably important.
  4. Up until the start of this month it was more or less entirely fuelled by volunteers – the list of amazing friends who have helped me out is almost endless. Many of them are celebrated in the ManíBabe Hall of Fame (check website) however that page took so long to build that there’s all ready another 10 people to add to it.
  5. We stamp every jar with the roasted on date – I want to bring everyone closer to the production process as well as let them know how god damn fresh their peanut butter is. This is one of the ways we do it.

What have you achieved so far with ManíLife and in how long?

So I have a lot of internal conflict over when ManíLife officially started.
The first concoction that would one day be ManíLife (it was called Stu’s….)was made c. March 2015 wiith a vitamix in my buddy Ant Acomazzo’s (smartest man I know) kitchen in Buenos Aires with a friend of mine Charlie Stephens (the most American Man I know).
The first, true jar of ManíLIfe, was made (also in a vitamix) c. June 2015 but that Summer was spent kitchen hopping round London, burning out blenders making about 100 jars a time. We then went on a break for about 9 months, whilst I tossed and turned in an accountancy job looking for better production until returning with essentially just a bigger blender in May 2016.
I’m officially leaving my job as an accountant in two days so part of me thinks we officially start next week…!

But in that time we have:

  1. Been named top up and coming health food brand to look out for by About Time magazine (incredible mag – I’ve shamelessly used it for almost every date I’ve been on in the last two years)
  2. Been on Jamie Oliver (the jar not me unfortunately!)
  3. Listed in about 30 independents around the UK.
  4. Been the best selling peanut butter in about 80% of those (we’re working on the other 20%) at almost double the price of our closest competitor (we’re working on the price too)
  5. Been approached by the best online food retailer on the planet – unfortunately The ManíFactory needs a bit of a revamp before we’ll be ready for them (eyes peeled end ot this year)
  6. Gone from 100 jar batches, where we individually stirred the crunch (chunky peanuts) into each jar of genuinely boiling hot peanut paste, to a slightly safer less silly 900 jar batch.
  7. Converted about 30 people who “genuinely hate peanut butter” into peanut butter lovers and thus transformed their lives forever.
  8. Won a bursary to showcase at the BBC Good Food show – it’s in November – come down.
  9. Started and quit a job in Accounting
  10. Been accepted onto a program called the New Entrepreneur’s Foundation – its just starting but first impressions are pretty unreal..!

Where do you want to take your brand next?

This sounds like such a cliché but we want to educate and inspire:
Educate – we want to use peanut butter to get people eating better – that’s why we focus so much on recipes. I want to work with schools and communities and educate people on the benefits of this stuff. School’s is a tough one because of fears of allergies – this is an absolute pet hate as this allergy ‘crisis’ has been driven by uneducated policy – we’ve been told not to eat peanuts when we’re pregnant, not expose our children to peanut butter before their 2nd birthday – this is madness and it’s a kind of self fulfilling prophecy.
Inspire – This is perhaps a bit more far fetch’d but I want to inspire a more positive attitude and bring this Argentine idea of Buena Onda to the UK. That’s what Maníbabe Mondays is all about – inspirational people doing amazing things. We will never say anything negative on any platform and if you come to a ManíBabe sampling session they are genuinely f•cking fun!
In terms of products – there’s only so much you can do with Jarred peanut butter – obviously I can think of a lot but the sad reality is that if you want to impact peoples diets you have to do it at the till display My dream is to help transform this till display from the sugary shite that sits there now to a range of ManíLife inspired snacks, that are not only more nutritious but a lot more delicious as well.
Stuart Macdonald - Founder of ManíLife

If you got a windfall investment what would you spend it on?

A team, a PA, The ManíVan, a machine to accelerate the launch of ManíLife snacks, storage (the ManíBike is currently stored in a very generous and very patient friend’s driveway), A collapsible and moveable ManíLife power pot bar that can tour schools, offices, festivals… maybe two of those! A return flight to Argentina to revisit the soup kitchens and farms we worked with along with a few friends…! A video team that can follow the ManíBabes to each sampling session and film peoples’ reactions to ManíLife along with a Maníllife Vs X montage to show just how much, peanut butter isn’t just peanut butter.

What do people say about it?

I have a file in my inbox which is “Fans” – there’s a few hundred messages in there (which isn’t bad considering we’ve’ probably only sold about 7000 jars..
The things that stick out from memory are:
“Holy sh*t, I didn’t realise peanut butter could taste like this”
“Does it really not have any sugar?”
“I usually hate peanut butter, genuinely hate it, but I love this”
“The perfect mix of creamy and crunchy”
A few actual examples are below:
Cathy Beaumont – My husband enjoys it so much and he has never liked peanut butter!
Jaye & Rosie – just to illustrate HOW addicted we are at home, i have to name the jars, as we initially started squabbling over who had had most and who finished it:
Sarah Fong – It’s the greatest peanut butter I’ve ever eaten. In my life. Ever.
Lynda Morgan – I have just received my first delivery of your peanut butter, and all I can say is ‘Wow!’. I can’t stop eating it …
Ammenah…” And to cut a long story short I had to check my pulse because I thought I’d died and gone to heaven!! Seriously, it’s so creamy!”

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