Catherine Beard investigates Fix & Fogg – the intrepid peanut butter company out to conquer the world.
Four and a half years ago, Roman and Andrea Jewell (pictured) founded Fix & Fogg. Previously both lawyers, they chose to leave behind the corporate life and dedicate their time and energy to creating something meaningful, sustainable, and delicious. They decided to make the best nut butters.
They started out at local markets and specialist shops – gift and design shops as well as food.
Their peanut butter was then spotted by a buyer from Wellington’s iconic Moore Wilson’s and this marked a significant stepping stone. Production changed from the commercial kitchen at the Hataitai Bowling Club to a plant in Elsdon, Porirua, near Whittaker’s – then on to central Wellington’s Eva Street where they now have a tasting window.
What makes them different to your average peanut butters at the supermarket is that every jar of Fix & Fogg nut butter is carefully blended and made from start to finish in their Wellington factory.
“We’re completely hands-on throughout the entire process,” says Thom Brooks, general manager. “We think our award-winning butters are so popular because people can taste the difference in a product that’s handmade by humans who care about quality.”
So confident are they in their point of difference Fix & Fogg have bravely taken their peanut butter to the home of peanut butter: the United States of America!
“We’re a fast-growing business with a big dream,” says Thom. “The peanut butter market in the US is worth $1.8 billion. We believe there is a space for our products at the top end of this market.
“So, after over a year of strategizing and planning, in December last year we began selling our peanut butter on Amazon in the States.
“Our strategy for Amazon was to capture customers who buy into our peanut butter through the brand story, values, attractive premium packaging, commitment to quality, social good and unique flavours – such as our Dark Chocolate and Smoke & Fire.”
Being able to ship single jars around America called for some innovative thinking. With consumers being increasingly aware of the impact of their purchases on the environment, with the likes of plastic bubble wrap, Fix and Fogg came up with a first for peanut butter.
Inspired by the cardboard canisters used for whiskey bottles, they created custom-made, fully recyclable cardboard canisters for their glass jars of peanut butter.
This canister innovation has provided a competitive advantage over other premium brands and created the ultimate peanut butter gift. “We’ve been sent images of customers repurposing the canisters to store pens and pencils, nuts and bolts, and spare change,” says Thom.
The US market followed Fix & Fogg’s first exports into Australia, and then Singapore and the Philippines.
After conquering America, I wouldn’t be surprised if Fix & Fogg ends up going all over the world, living up to the inspiration for its name – Phileas Fogg and Detective Fix from the classic 1873 adventure novel Around the World in 80 Days.
They certainly share the traits of embarking on great journeys, taking risks and trying new things. Thom believes this is reflected in the unusual peanut butter varieties and innovative packaging. “And although we’re not quite sold in 80 countries around the world yet, maybe one day we could do just that.”
This story was first published in the November 2018 issue of NZBusiness.
Thom’s Top Tips
- What you get out reflects what you put in. You need to understand your story, your offering, and what makes you different – and communicate that really well.
- Show off some innovation! New Zealand’s at the end of the world so we need to go for quality over quantity. Some of the big peanut butter companies can make in half an hour what we make in a day. So we need a niche, interesting offering.