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Peanut butter sales soar in France as Americans ‘crave’ taste of home

The number of US citizens moving to France has tripled since the pandemic and sales of peanut butter have followed

US brand Skippy dominates the market in France; American Vanessa Reynoso still relies on friends bringing her supplies from ‘back home’ Pic: Din Mohd Yaman / Shutterstock / Vanessa Reynoso

Peanut butter sales in France are expected to triple by 2030 as a result of a surge in the number of Americans moving to the country.

The forecast, first reported by French financial newspaper Les Echos, coincides with Interior Ministry figures showing more Americans are now obtaining new residency cards than any other nationality outside of North Africa.

Last year, 4,000 tonnes of peanut butter were sold in France and the market is predicted to reach €90million, or more than 12,000 tonnes, by the end of the decade. 

Read more: Number of Americans moving to France triples

‘Today you can find peanut butter in almost any store’

While US brand Skippy still dominates, with 20% of sales, French firm Menguy’s is close behind, and French multinational food company Andros also entered the field this year with its own line of peanut ‘spreads’.

Ellen Hilton, who runs a blog helping Americans travelling and moving to France, has already noticed a difference. 

“My first time in France was in 2009, and there was absolutely no peanut butter then, so things have changed,” she said.

“At this point, in Paris I feel like you can go into just about any store and you’ll find a couple of different options for peanut butter, so I am excited about that.”

‘It is still quite expensive in France’

However, the days of stock-piling jars from the US in your suitcase are not quite over yet, she said.

“One of the reasons why I still do it is because the price here is quite expensive.

“You have to spend anywhere between €6 and €10 on a jar, which to me seems a lot compared to the price in the US.”

For fellow Americans unwilling to pay a premium for peanut butter in France, Ms Hilton cautions against packing it in carry-on luggage, lest it be confiscated by the US’s Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

The organisation warned on Instagram earlier this year: “You may not be nuts about it, but TSA considers your PB a liquid. In carry-on, it needs to be 3.4oz or less.”

At €3.49 for a 325g jar, Andros Group’s new Be Nuts brand is one of the most affordable options on the French market.

By comparison, a 340g jar of Skippy typically costs more than €6 in Paris. For the same price in the US, you can pick up a jar roughly 1.5 times bigger.

Read more: What Americans notice when they move to France

Peanut ‘spread’ made for European customers

However, Maxime Gervoson, general manager of Andros France, is careful to point out that Be Nuts is a peanut ‘spread’ and not peanut butter.

According to Mr Gervoson, this category of peanut spread was previously “non-existent” in France. 

It is based on chocolate hazelnut spreads such as Nutella, and he said the aim was to meet the expectations of European consumers “accustomed to creamier spreads”, while also offering a “healthier alternative”.

Andros has constructed a €20million facility dedicated to Be Nuts production in Brive-la-Gaillarde (Corrèze), where 30 employees process peanuts sourced from Argentina and the US. 

The firm has also started agricultural tests in France to grow peanuts domestically.

“We don’t know yet if this will work but we’re trying,” Mr Gervoson said. 

‘We’ve been trying for years to get European peanuts’

However, Buddy Buddy, which claims to be Europe’s first nut butter café and atelier, warns that Andros might face challenges moving its peanut production to Europe.

Julien Gaucherot, along with his partner Matt Samra, launched Buddy Buddy in 2020 in Brussels, and opened a second café in Paris in March.

Their nut butters are available for purchase online and in select retailers, and their cafés offer a range of creative nut butter-based drinks and pastries.

Currently, they obtain all their almonds and hazelnuts from a farm in France, but their peanuts are imported from Nicaragua.

“We’ve been trying for years now to get European peanuts. It has been difficult. European production is really limited.” said Mr Gaucherot.

That could all change in the future, however. 

In September, The Connexion reported that peanuts have already been earmarked by environmental researchers as possibilities to replace certain crops currently growing in southern France that are ill-suited to rising temperatures.

Read more: Why peanuts and pistachios are the future of French farming

In the meantime, Americans in France might have to stick with tried and tested methods.

Vanessa Reynoso, an American working in the entertainment industry, moved to France in 2021 and has been relying on visitors from back home to restock her supply.

“Every once in a while, you crave a sense of familiarity. 

“For me, for some reason, it was always peanut butter I missed,” she said.

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