American Peanut Council member spotlight features interview with American Blanching CEO
Created: Wednesday, 20 March 2013 13:21
1. You have been the CEO of American Blanching for two years now – how has the peanut drought of 2011 and the surplus of 2012 affected your business?
"First I would be remiss if I did not mention the efforts of the employees of American Blanching. There is a great team here that is very committed to what they do and it is a pleasure to work with them. 2011 was a challenge on the blanching side due to the poor quality of the crop and the prevalence of Aflatoxin which placed a demand on blanching services that exceeded industry capacity. We worked with our shellers to minimize the effect on their customers."
2012 has brought a surplus and "now that there is a plentiful supply of peanuts and good quality to boot, we are excited to see a lot of our peanut butter customers back promoting their products and introducing new items. Our blanching and peanut butter business remains solid and we continue to make investments in our infrastructure to strengthen our food safety program which received an "A" rating by the BRC for the past two years. Our mindset is one of continuous improvement where we basically are always looking for ways we can improve our performance," says Jack Warden.
2. Do you process only USA grown peanuts? If not, what other country of origin peanuts do you process?
"As a test, we processed a few loads of peanuts from Argentina last year when the supply looked to be short. Aside from that we have only handled U.S. grown peanuts for the past 2+ years. "
3. How are peanuts "blanched"? Are the peanuts that are roasted and/or made into granules also blanched?
"The process of blanching involves two steps:" adds Jack, "first the peanut is subjected to heat and then cooled to weaken the bond between the skin and the kernel. Then the skin is removed as gently as possible to minimize breakage and yield loss. Un-blanched or partially blanched peanuts are screened out using electronic sorting equipment."
4. American Blanching processes peanuts in five different ways: blanched, roasted, granules, peanut butter and peanut paste. Which area is the largest for ABC and which area do you feel offers the most growth?
"From a volume standpoint, blanching and the production of peanut paste/butter are about equal for us. Of course the 2010 and 2011 crop created special challenges for everyone in the peanut industry and especially for us in the blanching business since the demand for blanching services exceeded the industry's capacity. "
5. Do you feel that the market is requesting more organically grown product?
"We don't see an increase in consumer demand from our vantage point for organically grown peanuts. Certainly there is a loyal consumer base for organic peanuts and peanut butter but for us the larger growth opportunity appears more in the area of innovation such as peanut butter enhanced with inclusions and flavors."
6. With the trend for healthful snacking on the rise, how is ABC positioned to continue to grow and capture this trend.
"ABC has been one of the leaders in the development of unique and innovative products especially around flavored peanut butter and peanut butter with inclusions such as nuts, granola, and fruit. Peanuts and peanut butter have long been recognized as a healthy way to snack. With the recent introduction of some of the new peanut butter formulas there is some real excitement about peanut butter being a great way to snack."
7. With all the protein –rich peanut products that are produced by ABC, do you also provide peanut paste, the main ingredient for making Ready-to-use-Therapeutic (RUTF) food, to help the malnourished?
"Yes, we supply the base peanut paste formula directly to MANA who in turn adds other ingredients and packages it into the final RUTF (ready to use therapeutic food) formula. We also work with MANA to provide them with technical support on formulations when requested. It is a great partnership between the two companies," says Jack.
MANA (Mothers Administrative Nutritive Aid) produces RUTF to help the severely malnourished around the globe. MANA CEO, Mike Moore, recently opened his factory to produce RUTF in Fitzgerald, GA and works closely with Jack at ABC. (http://mananutrition.org/about_us)
8. American Blanching has been a member of the American Peanut Council for a long time. How has membership helped with your company's growth?
"As in most business so much of your success depends on relationships. APC has allowed us to connect with customers, suppliers and experts, which has been a key to our growth. "