Nut butter brand brings Moroccan flavours to UK: ‘We are targeting foodies’

By Flora Southey

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags Nut butter Moroccan argan oil North africa

UK start-up Yumello has developed a range of nut butters that champion ingredients from Morocco’s Atlas Mountains, including the nutty, rich and slightly sweet argan oil.

Bristol-based Yumello, which is inspired by the cuisine of North Africa, has launched a range of four nut butters for the UK market: Smooth Salted Date Almond Butter, Salted Date Crunchy Peanut Butter, Wild Atlas Almond Butter and Wild Atlas Peanut Butter.

With a recommended retail price of between £2.85-£4.95 (€2.85 - €4.95) per 170 g jar, Esther Elhajji admits Yumello is a premium brand: “We are targeting foodies, people that are interested in [our] ingredients, people that are looking for something different, more exciting, more adventurous.”

Inside the jar

Salted Date Almond Butter ​– RRP £4.95 per 170g jar / roasted Almonds (77%), coconut (8%), dates, coconut oil, sea salt (0.7%)

Wild Atlas Almond Butter ​– RRP £4.95 per 170g jar / roasted almonds (95.5%), organic cold-pressed argan oil (4%), sea salt

Salted Date Peanut Butter ​– RRP £2.85 per 170g jar / roasted hi-oleic peanuts (86%), dates (8%), coconut oil, sea salt (0.9%)

Wild Atlas Peanut Butter​ – RRP £2.85 per 170g jar / roasted hi-oleic peanuts (95.5%), organic cold-pressed argan oil (4%), a sprinkling of sea salt

Out of (North) Africa

Founders Esther and Omar Elhajji met in Omar’s Berber hometown of Tahgaout, in the Atlas Mountains. Here, locals eat the popular ‘amlu’ – a Moroccan almond, honey and argan oil spread – for breakfast or afternoon tea with pastries.

When we were living in Morocco we really liked this product,”​ Esther Elhajji told FoodNavigator. “It's everywhere in the Atlas Mountains.”

Once moved to the UK, the Elhajjis missed the Moroccan spread. “We could find similar products on the market, but they weren’t the same. So we started to make our own, and our friends loved it.”

Argan oil comes from the kernels of the Argania spinose tree in southwest Morocco. Its health benefits have already been harnessed by the cosmetics industry, whether in face serums or in shampoo products, but is relatively unused in foods outside of Morocco.

“Argan oil has three times the amount of Vitamin E than olive oil, and is very low in saturated fats,” ​said Elhajjis, adding that the oil has the same fat profile as avocado.

In terms of its flavour profile, the oil tastes “nutty”​, we were told. “The kernel is roasted, and then cold-pressed. It is slightly sweet and rich, and goes very well with almonds and peanuts.”

“It doesn’t change the flavour [of the nuts] but adds depth, it makes the nut butter taste richer.” 

Standing out in a growing market

The nut butter market is booming in Western countries. While not yet as established as the US, in Europe, revenue in the peanut butter segment will amount to €316m this year, according to analysts Statista, with the market expected to grow annually by 5.1%.

Peanut butter Revenue in million € Source Statista, July 2018
Peanut butter: Revenue in million € (Source: Statista, July 2018)

In the UK, premium brands such as Meridian and Whole Earth are regular features on supermarket shelves. However, Yumello regards its main competitor as Pip & Nut. “It is a premium brand that is experimenting with different flavours."

“We could consider Whole Earth and Meridian as competitors as well, because of the price point. [However] they are big brands, they don’t pay as much attention [as us] to the ingredients they use,” ​said Elhajjis.

Unlike the majority of nut butters in the UK, Yumello brings provenance to the category, we were told. “Both in our products and in new flavour combinations and new ingredients, like argan oil, which has never been used in food as far as we know, in the UK.”

And the four new flavours won’t stop there. “We go to the Atlas Mountains every three months looking for inspiration, so we will come up with new flavours in the new future, as well as new products.”

Clean label, plastic-free

While Yumello is proudly palm-oil free, Elhajjis admitted this was an easy decision given the product’s Moroccan influences. “To be honest, we didn’t need to avoid [palm oil] because all our recipes are inspired by the Atlas Mountains, and most of our ingredients come from there.”

Indeed, all almonds, peanuts and argan oil used in the products hail from Morocco, with the coconut oil sourced from Sri Lanka. “The argan oil is organic, and they are all ethical ingredients.”

Following in the anti-plastic movement, Yumello uses glass jars. “They are more environmentally friendly. Our lids are not plastic either, and the labels don’t contain any plastic – just paper.”

The clean label product contains no refined sugar, and are available in a number of independent stores, as well as through wholesalers Tree of Life and Diverse Fine Foods.

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