One new addition to Alabama’s workforce is seeking to help American consumers answer that age-old question: creamy or crunchy?
Golden Boy Nut Corp., a division of Canada-based Golden Boy Foods, recently opened a nut butter production plant in Pike County. Nestled on 17 acres in Troy’s Industrial Park, Golden Boy’s 70,000 square-foot facility currently operates with a 20-member staff. As demand increases, so will the size of the plant and its personnel, bringing even more jobs to the state.
“We anticipate the plant will employ around 80 staff total, once all product lines are in motion,” said Golden Boy Plant Manager Mark Pyne. “We’re in a state of growth every day.”
The first phase of peanut butter production was slated to begin by Feb. 1 and includes creamy and crunchy, natural and organic types. All peanut butter produced during this phase will be sold through private labels including Great Value Brand for Walmart; Safeway Brand for Safeway Inc., North America’s second largest supermarket chain; and Otis Spunkmeyer.
Pyne noted that the second phase of production is slated for June or July and will expand Golden Boy’s product line to include almond and cashew butters.
“We’re excited about the expanded market opportunities for alternative nut butters,” said Pyne. “Chefs and culinary artists are modifying their recipes to include use of almond and cashew butters for flavor and health benefits, and this is an exciting step for our company. It allows us to show just how great our products are in a new way – still through food, but pleasing to an entirely different palate.”
Troy’s Golden Boy plant will introduce a second peanut butter production line in the fall. With a 24/7 production schedule, Pyne said he estimates the plant will have produced more than 60 million pounds of peanut butter by year-end.
While this is good news for Golden Boy’s bottom line, it’s also welcome news for Alabama’s peanut farmers.
“The new peanut butter plant will benefit Alabama growers because of its close proximity to our shelling plants,” said Carl Sanders, president of the Alabama Peanut Producers Association. “Production in Alabama has been stable for several years, but we expect it to increase in 2012 as prices increase.”
According to Pyne, all peanuts that come through the Golden Boy plant will be from the Southeast, specifically Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi.
“Golden Boy chose to build the plant in Troy because it’s ‘peanut country,’” said Pyne. “What better place to build a peanut butter plant than in an area with such a deep saturation and understanding of peanuts?”
Sanders noted that while the south Alabama plant is good for farmers, it’s also good news for consumers, adding that demand for peanut butter continues to increase because it has the lowest cost per serving of all protein sources.
Pyne said he believes the reason for increased demand is simple.
“Who doesn’t love peanut butter?” he asked. “It’s a grocery staple, and practically everyone has at least one jar in their pantries. Some consumers are brand loyalists, while others are satisfied so long as they have their jar of creamy or extra crunchy. Regardless of what brand or type they buy, one thing is true – people love it.”
Producing great peanut butter at the lowest cost for consumers is key to Golden Boy’s mission, said Pyne, but a more innocent influence is the reason he really loves his job.
“There’s something about the look on children’s faces when you make them a peanut butter and jelly sandwich,” he said. “And as adults, any time we indulge in this simple treat, it takes us back to our childhood – that era of nostalgia – when it’s hard not to smile with every single bite.”