Mountain Meadows is the maker of NoNuts Peabutter – that’s right peabutter – and has developed a product that is both peanut- and gluten-free, among a multitude of other health benefits. The Alberta-based company first launched NoNuts in 2000. Since then, the product has rapidly grown in popularity.
“We purchased the company from the original founder and owner in 2004,” recalls Caryll Carruthers, president and owner of Mountain Meadows. “The idea for the peabutter actually came about by accident.” The original founder traveled the globe in search of a variety of peas to make the perfect hummus. The result was a product that tasted and smelled not like hummus, but similar to peanut butter.
Over the past decade, the company has grown in conjunction with the success of NoNuts; however, it remains a small, independently owned manufacturer. “We’re not big by any means,” explains Carruthers. “We’re a very hands-on operation. We use a lot more people than machines.” Mountain Meadows employs a small staff of five full-time individuals and occasionally adds eight more people to assist with production when needed.
Through two distributors Mountain Meadows services western Canada, including the Safeway grocery chain and natural food stores. The company also services eastern Canada, including two major chains and a large specialty food store in Toronto. “We also have an online distributor in the U.S. and sell to companies on the East Coast,” adds Carruthers.
Going Nuts for NoNuts
NoNuts has soared in popularity, and not only amongst those with nut and gluten allergies. The product is also a hit with health fanatics for its nutritional value. “We use brown peas, canola oil, a small amount of confectionary sugar and stabilizers,” details Carruthers. “This makes for a product that is gluten, soy, dairy, egg and nut free. NoNuts is very nutritious, yet it tastes really good. In fact, most children can’t even tell the difference between it and regular peanut butter. We will soon be releasing chocolate, cinnamon and a sweeter, creamy variety. For example, we need a stabilizer supplier, because, like regular peanut butter, peabutter needs added oils to bring the product to a spreadable consistency and keep it from separating.”
NoNuts can be used as a peanut butter substitute on something as traditional as a peabutter and jelly sandwich or to make delicious spicy Thai sauces. “You can even use it to thicken chili and spaghetti sauces,” adds Carruthers. “It’s an amazing product. It really serves a broad purpose.” The company has dedicated a section of its website to NoNuts recipes, including everything from peabutter bacon chocolate truffles to peabutter energy bars.
Mountain Meadows has received such a warm welcoming from consumers over NoNuts that the team is looking to expand the product line. “We recently brought new flavors to a local trade show to introduce and test them out,” details Carruthers. “It went over really well. We’ll soon be releasing chocolate, cinnamon and a salt and sugar flavor.”
The Nuts and Bolts of the Business
Despite exceptional success with a fairly new product, Mountain Meadows has seen the ups and downs of an unstable economy. “We’ve just kept going and moving forward,” shares Carruthers. “Despite challenges, we haven’t increased the price of NoNuts since its original launch.”
Carruthers admits the commodity costs of running the operation have gone up because the company relies heavily on contracts with local pea and canola farmers. “It can be a very up-and-down market,” she adds. “Right now it’s up and it definitely affects the price of the product. Also our freight and fuel costs have gone up. Fuel surcharges just about choke us sometimes.”
Remaining small and independently owned contributes to the difficulty of raising awareness about the NoNuts product. “We just can’t afford the heavy-duty advertising our larger competitors can,” admits Carruthers. “We don’t have a fancy cartoon character ad on T.V.; that takes huge dollars.”
However, as a small company, NoNuts has a great deal of control over quality, performing the entire manufacturing process and managing vendor relationships.
“Many of our suppliers and vendors are the same which our original founder purchased from,” explains Carruthers. “We’ve only had to swap out a few over the years. For example, we need a stabilizer supplier, because, unlike actual peanut butter, peabutter needs added oils to bring the product to a spreadable consistency. We left our original stabilizer supplier, because we didn’t want to put anything in our product that had harmful hydrogenated oils in it.”
Economic challenges and constant changes in the business basics aside, NoNuts continues to build steam as an innovative product admired by consumers. The fairly young company has a lot to look forward to in the coming years, especially in expanding its successful product line. Mountain Meadows delivers a product that is not only a great alternative to traditional peanut butter, but also a delicious, fundamentally nutritious one, as well.