There’s no arguing that coconut is hot right now. And coconut butter in particular is starting to take up premium shelf space next to nut butter staples. As many consumers gravitate toward the paleo lifestyle, and others venture into the ketogenic diet world, it doesn’t appear the seed (it’s not really a nut!) will be leaving the store shelves anytime soon. This is good news for Lindsay Binnie, founder of Binnie’s Coconut Butter, now in its third year. Here, Binnie shares what it’s been like to disrupt a well-established food category, and her plans for growth.
What was your inspiration for creating Binnie’s Coconut Butter?
Lindsay Binnie: My family and I weren’t eating very well, and I started to actually get hives and found out it was food sensitivity-related. I realized we were eating a lot of preservatives and food that wasn’t real. But my kids weren’t very excited about the kale chips I was making. I saw an article online about coconut butter, and I had never heard of it. I knew they wouldn’t eat it plain, so I thought, ‘I could add cinnamon and vanilla.’ They loved it. My husband started calling it Binnie Butter, so that’s where the name came from.
We started out at farmers markets once I found out my family liked it. We would sell out in an hour and I thought, ‘we’re definitely onto something here.’
Your label includes many designations, such as gluten-free, non-GMO, organic, paleo, vegan and raw. What’s the advantage and potential disadvantage in doing that?
LB: The advantage is that people can identify with what they are in those subcategories—if they are dairy free, celiac, vegan. A lot of time those designations will draw in customers, and that starts a conversation.
The downside would be that all of those involved in one product could make people think it tastes terrible. But thankfully that’s not true for ours. People are really shocked. So it’s important to get it into people’s hands. It’s so new that you can’t compare it to another nut butter. Then they taste it, and that’s when the sale happens.
How important is sourcing for you, and has it been difficult to find coconut that meets your standards?
LB: It is really important because I made this for my family so I think of our customers like that as well. That’s how I treat our customers, so it’s a really important piece to what we’re doing. I’ve tried many different kinds [of coconut] and we’ve landed on one we really like. Because it’s grown from the Earth, it’s different in different regions. We found one that we like how it reacts to our product to keep it really creamy. We worked hard in production to get it fluffier and creamier so people don’t have to microwave it.
What method have you found is most successful for getting the word out about your product?
LB: I think the grassroots effort to get it into people’s hands to taste it and ask questions. We’re working on doing demos really hard because it’s so new. We’re kind of pioneering a new way in the nut butter category so we actually have to educate on what this is. Thankfully, we’re picking up were the media has left off on educating people about the benefits of coconut. Most people know coconut is good for you but they don’t know why so we’re kind of expounding on that. So demos, farmers markets … we’ll have to continue with those for quite a while still.
What are your goals for 2017?
LB: We’re going to keep focusing on our local markets here [in Colorado], and expand into more retailers. We’re now in Alfalfa's Market, Sprouts and Whole Foods Market throughout the Rocky Mountain region. We’ve got our eyes on more independent retailers.