Fix & Fogg has gone from selling 30 jars as a weekend side hustle to being celebrated as ‘the best nut butter on the planet’. Founder and CEO Roman Jewell spoke to The Spinoff about expanding into the US.
In 2014 Fix and Fogg launched its boutique peanut butter brand at a Wellington farmers market. Eight years later they haven’t just conquered the New Zealand market – they’re a top seller on Amazon, stocked at thousands of stores across the US and last year won a contract to supply 500 stores across the Whole Foods Market chain.
Since leaving their careers as lawyers, it’s been a wild ride for Fix and Fogg founders, husband and wife team Roman and Andrea Jewell, especially as they’ve grown the business overseas through the Covid-19 pandemic. While it’s been a buzz to watch from afar as the brand gathers momentum in the US (including being named “the best nut butter on the planet” by chef and food writer Jake Cohen), they’re stoked to have now had the chance to witness the product on the Whole Food shelf in person. The Spinoff caught up with Roman Jewell to find out how the last year has gone.
This interview was conducted as part of the launch of The Spinoff’s new business newsletter Stocktake.
Sign up to Stocktake and go in the draw to win one of three prize packs from Fix & Fogg. Two subscribers will receive a six-month supply and one lucky winner a full year’s supply of Fix & Fogg’s delicious nut butters.
What’s happening with Fix & Fogg right now? How’s business?
Where do I begin?! The last 12 months have been massive for Fix & Fogg, especially with our expansion into the US market and the continued support we receive here in New Zealand. In 2021, we grew from being in 10 grocery stores in the United States to being in more than 3,500, and it hasn’t slowed down.
This year our focus has been on maintaining our existing relationships, both new and old, and making sure our supply chain can cope with the increase in Fix & Fogg customers. We are also about to undertake a full brand launch in Australia with a leading retailer, which is exciting and has been in the works for more than 18 months.
What’s it been like watching the expansion in the US from afar?
After not being able to leave New Zealand for over two years, I finally saw my first jars of Fix & Fogg on the shelf in Chicago last month. It was a bundle of different emotions, finally travelling to the US and seeing the outcome of what we’ve achieved in what feels like a very short space of time. Just eight years ago we were camped out at weekend farmers markets in Wellington and now Fix & Fogg is sold right across America, including in the world’s largest natural grocer, Whole Foods Market. It’s crazy stuff.
Has the US launch led to any Americanised flavours being added to the range?
Two of our latest releases, Peanut Butter & Jelly and Cookie Butter, have had a little US influence. There’s a big market over there and they have some specific tastes! As with all of our products, we’ve given them our own Fix & Fogg twist. Our Peanut Butter & Jelly is made with chewy berry pieces, raspberries and crunchy peanut butter – it’s sweet, tart and moreishly delicious. We also added beetroot powder to give the nut butter a unique pink colour. On the other hand, our Cookie Butter was specifically requested by Whole Foods Market. We’re never ones to shy away from a challenge, so we took the opportunity to develop a cookie butter that was gluten free, vegan friendly, non-GMO and palm oil free. It’s our first product made without nuts.
We’ve been blown away by the success of both products online and in-store and can’t wait for New Zealanders to taste some other new flavours we have coming out soon. We never want to stop innovating.
What kind of challenges are you facing in the nut butter industry right now?
Like many other Kiwi companies, supply chain issues, cost of goods and inflation are challenging us at every turn. Unfortunately it’s the reality of being an FMCG business in 2022.
At the end of the day, however, supplying our customers with delicious products that we’re proud of is always at the forefront of our minds, so we’re working hard to navigate the current business environment. Being the first New Zealand-owned B Corp food manufacturer also means that we sometimes have to take the longer, harder route to get there, but it’s always worth it.
Are there any other new recipes you’ve been trialling lately? What’s on the horizon?
Yes – but I can’t tell you just yet. We have a new product we’ll release in a few months that we think may have New Zealanders sitting on the fence. But that’s what we love doing at Fix & Fogg. We’re constantly pushing the boundaries with innovation. I think it’s what sets us apart from other nut butter brands both here and overseas. All I can say is, have a spoon at the ready for our next release.