An Open Letter to the Alternative Spreads Market
Photo by Irene Kredenets via Unsplash.
In a world dominated by peanut butter - the holy grail of spreads - we see you. Starting from nothing, you've come a long way to provide creamy and crunchy, sweet and savory, nut and seed-based options for those unable (or unwilling) to consume the OG. From old-timers like almond butter to the newer kids on the block (*cough cough* granola butter), the list goes on and on. You've attempted to reimagine a world where those averse to the mighty peanut can feel a sense of normalcy and familiarity when biting into their favorite childhood sandwich––and for that, we thank you.
But we think maybe it’s time to take it up a notch, to bring to the table an irresistibly creamy, nutty spread that rivals the traditional — just without the peanuts (and other top allergens). We know that’s a tall order––one you’ve been tackling for quite some time––so we figured it worthwhile to break down where the market has been and opportunities for it to adapt to (and thrive in) the not-so-distant future. Let’s dig in!
Almonds and Cashews and Seeds, Oh My!
Now, there’s a variety of reasons why many of us don’t consume peanut butter, from those voluntary in nature to mandatory. And depending on the basis of that reason, often times the existing alternatives and substitutes work to fill that gap. For example, some people don’t care for the taste of America’s favorite spread (to the dismay and utter disbelief of many).
And for those individuals who find peanut butter less than appetizing, the world of alternative options looks pretty great. Many offerings, including almond butter and even seed butters (like sunflower), aren’t trying to perfectly replicate that classic flavor––they exist in their own right. Particularly for folks like IrisCaleb on Reddit––who don’t suffer from a peanut or other common food allergy––it’s a win-win. So when it comes to catering to this niche audience within the space, alternative spreads have succeeded in their mission. However, in casting a wider net to accommodate for the wants and needs of the allergen-free community, it seems that the current offerings have somewhat missed the mark.
Taking a Hint From the Alternative Meat Space
To better understand these gaps within the alternative spreads market, let’s take a look at the analogous––yet more widely covered––alternative meat space. Up until the past several years, the landscape of alternative meats consisted almost entirely of beans and other legumes––dressed up as a variation on the classic hamburger. And for seasoned vegans and vegetarians, who often abstain from eating meat due to ethical and environmental concerns and not as frequently out of necessity, these plant-forward patties have been more than sufficient.
But in recent times, creators of plant-based proteins that seek to achieve (and come quite close to) a taste, texture, and mouth-feel identical to that of their animal-based counterparts have come to dominate the market, catering largely to those willing to cut meat out of their diet––as long as they can get the same experience from plants. Targeting flexitarians (those who are mostly vegetarian in their diets but occasionally eat meat or seafood) has become more of the norm for key players in the alternative meats space. And regardless of how we as individuals feel about these alternatives, one thing is clear: they have revolutionized the market by providing options that rival traditional meat in almost every way.
Application to Spreads
Seeing how the alternative meat market has been able to quite effectively balance traditional, well-loved taste and texture with cutting-edge food technology, the question arises: why hasn’t the alternative spread market been able to do the same? Why isn’t there a peanut butter alternative that packs all the flavor and creamy texture we know and love from the classic spread, just without the peanuts? Because similarly to within the alternative meat market, a large segment of the consumer base within the alternative spreads space aren’t actually looking for alternatives, but replacements. This is especially true for those with food allergies, who often simply cannot consumer popular alternatives like almond butter or soy-based alternatives out of necessity, not desire.
See, it’s not that there aren’t enough alternatives on the market––that’s exactly the heart of the dilemma. There are plenty of substitutes out there––what ceases to exist within the space is a true replacement that provides that oh-so-familiar taste and texture without any of the harm. That’s where we come in. We’re boldly stepping into the space with a nut-free peanut butter unlike any that currently exist, to serve those who have waited far too long for something of it’s kind. So, we wholeheartedly thank you for shaping the alternative spreads market into what it is today. We’re ready to shape it for tomorrow.