The award-winning company has export orders flowing in from Malaysia, Taiwan, Singapore and Fiji, with promising interest from the USA and China.
“Our orders are getting bigger and more frequent too, which is a great sign,” Forty Thieves co-owner Shyr Godfrey told me.
“We’re currently exporting tens of thousands of jars each year but it’s a massive market out there so it’s definitely the right direction for our business.”
The Asia-Pacific region currently eats more than a quarter of the world’s peanut butter and consumption should further increase in the coming years.
Distributors for Forty Thieves in Asia say consumers are willing to pay a premium for products from New Zealand because of its excellent reputation for food safety and quality.
“They tell us there’s been a big consumer shift towards better-for-you, unsweetened products, like ours, which are considered healthier and more nutritious,” Shyr says.
“That’s been our approach from the start, so it’s fantastic to see consumers pick up on it - not just here in New Zealand but all around the world.”
From small things
Forty Thieves was founded by Shyr and Brent Godfrey in their garage in 2016.
Both are keen runners and had always loved peanut butter, having used it as a source of energy for their exercise.
“That love of running, and the natural healthiness that peanut butter provides – the combination of the two just cemented well with me,” Brent says.
In the beginning, they thought there was already enough peanut butter on the market in New Zealand so they focused on other nut butters and tahini-based spreads.
“But people just kept asking us about peanut butter,” Shyr says.
“So after a while, we thought, we've got all the machinery, we've got the peanuts, so let's just produce a pure peanut butter.
“People absolutely loved our extra crunchy texture and the naturally sweet flavour.”
Six years later, their passion for peanuts and the demand of their customers has seen the start-up grow into a vibrant and successful business.
Forty Thieves now employs 10 staff, selling more than a quarter of a million jars of nut butter each year in more than 400 stores across New Zealand and abroad.
That growth required a willingness to learn and adapt their business as it grew. Many of the country’s greatest business started out small – so it’s great to see a new wave of start-ups emerging.