Pic's Peanut Butter becomes New Zealand's first and only solar-powered peanut roastery

Pic's peanut butter jar next to a photo of the new solar panels on the roastery in Nelson
Pic's Peanut Butter World has become the first - and only - solar-powered peanut roastery in the country. Photo credit: Supplied / Facebook

Kiwi company Pic's Peanut Butter is bringing light, quite literally, to sustainable business with the installation of 486 solar panels on the roof of its roastery Pic's Peanut Butter World, located in sunny Nelson.

Pic's will bear the title of New Zealand's first solar-powered peanut roastery, where as of this week, 3.3 million peanuts will be roasted by the sun's rays alone on a beautiful day in Nelson-Tasman, Aotearoa's sunniest region.

Founder and peanut butter baron Pic Picot continues to champion sustainable initiatives, with the installment of the solar panels following a limited-edition collaboration with Cathedral Cove Naturals to save a staggering 405kg of leftover boysenberries otherwise destined for the landfill. 

With its products sold in supermarkets across the motu and offshore in Australia, Asia, the UK and the US, Pic's - one of New Zealand's loved local peanut butter brands alongside the likes of Fix & Fogg and Nut Brothers - processes around one tonne of peanuts every hour, which turns into as many as 28,000 jars of peanut butter each day.

From this week, the new solar panels will cover at least 20 percent of Pic's energy demand year-round, although the summer months will harness significantly more power. On a sunny day, that's enough energy to roast 3.3 million peanuts - or 124,000 jars per month.

With the solar power generated from the new panels, it will take just 10.3 seconds of sun to produce one jar of peanut butter.

"Our products are grown by the sun and now they're processed by the sun too," Picot said on Wednesday.

The 'power move' makes Pic's the only solar-powered peanut roastery in Aotearoa.

Meanwhile, Pic's is also supporting a new horticulture operation in Northland, led by the Ministry for Primary Industries and Plant & Food Research, to grow commercial yields of peanuts in the region. The company is also trialling locally grown almonds from Hawke's Bay.

"Producing our raw materials locally will hugely reduce our inward freight carbon emissions," Picot explained.

"This, coupled with our solar-charged roastery, would be massive for reducing impact on the environment. For now, our solar move at the factory is a huge step in the right direction."

The new solar panels on the roof of the roastery
Almost 500 new solar panels have been installed on the roof of the Nelson-based roastery. Photo credit: Supplied

A self-proclaimed "one-time hippy" with a penchant for doing his bit to save the planet, Picot is on a mission to integrate sustainable methods into almost all facets of his 100 percent certified renewable energy business.

As well as making a commitment to regularly audit the company's own impact as well as its suppliers, Pic's said it has taken major steps to reduce water usage, waste and carbon emissions. The company is also certified not only Zero Carbon, but Climate Positive - which means it has made a commitment to measure and offset at least 120 percent of its CO2 emissions. 

Where the company's emissions cannot be further reduced, Pic's offsets its footprint by contributing to the protection of 4120 hectares of forest on Vanua Levu, the second largest island in Fiji.

The community is also encouraged to do their part, with Nelsonians able to return their empty peanut butter jars to cut down on packaging. There are also free electric car chargers in the car park at Peanut Butter World, and Pic's donates more than 1500kg a year of not-quite-perfect product to food rescue programmes and local predator trappers.

"As inhabitants of a planet in peril, we have no choice but to be doing everything we can to reduce our emissions. It is a privilege for us to be making a high-protein plant-based food that is not only shelf-stable and easy to eat, but is also totally delicious," Picot added.

"The journey to climate positive hasn't been easy and it hasn't come cheap, but we are counting on our customers to see the value of reducing their reliance on animal protein while supporting a business hell-bent on zero carbon."