Ever since its creation in 1932 by the chemist and entrepreneur Joseph Rosefield, Skippy has been on a transformative journey. From pioneering the use of wide-mouth jars and popularizing crunchy peanut butter, Skippy has consistently pushed the boundaries of innovation.
Today, this iconic brand has one of the top-selling peanut butters in the world but is constantly behind competitor Jif, which holds more than 30 percent of the US market share. What can give Skippy a competitive advantage?
Skippy just made a major differentiating move by getting its peanut butter varieties certified vegan by the Vegan Awareness Foundation (VAF), a respected non-profit organization dedicated to promoting a vegan diet.
“We’re proud to be the only vegan-certified peanut butter that’s as delicious and widely available as Skippy,” Sarah Johnson, Director of Nut Butters Marketing at Skippy, said in a statement. “Peanut butter is well regarded as a protein source for vegetarians, and now those adhering to a vegan diet can choose the Skippy brand, too.”
VAF’s Vegan Action has been certifying vegan products for more than 25 years and Skippy’s journey to vegan certification was an intensive one, involving meticulous examination of the products and production facilities.
“The Certified Logo is the most recognized and trusted vegan logo in North America and is easily visible to consumers interested in vegan products and helps vegans to shop without constantly consulting ingredient lists,” Krissi Vandenberg, VAF/Vegan Action Executive Director, tells VegNews. “It also helps companies recognize a growing vegan market, as well as bringing the word ‘vegan’—and the lifestyle it represents—into the mainstream.”
Skippy gets peanut butter vegan certified
Vandenberg says Skippy contacted the organization seeking vegan certification, explaining that the reason some peanut butters might not be certified as vegan is due to bone char. In the United States, most refined white sugar is refined with bone char and some consumers avoid products that contain it.
“Skippy’s aim is to let consumers know that their product is free of bone-char sugar in addition to being cruelty-free,” Vandenberg says.
Vegan Action assessed Skippy’s peanut butters against strict criteria to ensure they were entirely plant-based and free from any products tested on animals. This certification signifies that unlike some peanut butter brands that are processed in facilities handling animal products or contain animal byproducts, Skippy stands out as being 100 percent vegan.
As a result, the Certified Vegan Logo from Vegan Action, a symbol of trust and recognition, has now been awarded to eight Skippy products.
The brand’s vegan-certified portfolio includes both creamy and Super Chunk peanut butter in regular and natural varieties, as well as squeeze packs and no-sugar-added spreads. These products are easily identifiable for vegan consumers, helping them make purchase decisions without the need to delve into detailed ingredient lists.
Given Skippy’s extensive distribution network, this move means greater accessibility to certified vegan products for consumers. The recognition also sends out a message to the broader food industry about the growing consumer demand for vegan products.
“We were very excited to get Skippy peanut butter Vegan Certified because it has tremendous distribution which means greater access to more people,” Vandenberg says. “I do believe this will have a positive impact on the larger food industry by showing companies that large companies value Vegan Certification for consumers in addition to the smaller companies that specifically market vegan products.”
Outside of these vegan-certified items, Skippy’s portfolio still includes peanut butters made with animal products, including its PB Bites line (which contains dairy) and several spreads that contain honey.
Hormel gets into plant-based foods
The Skippy brand is currently manufactured by Hormel Foods Corporation, which bought it from Unilever in 2013. The company’s decision to attain vegan certification for some of its peanut butters comes at a time when Hormel is also exploring plant-based products, including vegan pepperoni, sausage, meatballs, and more through its foodservice Happy Little Plants brand.
In 2020, national pizza chain Papa Murphy’s added Hormel’s vegan pepperoni to its menu at select locations. In 2021, Hormel announced a partnership with Sacramento’s The Better Meat Co. to use its proprietary Rhiza mycoprotein and plant-based proteins to innovate new products.
“As a global branded food company, we understand our food culture is changing at a rapid pace and people are curious and willing to try great tasting, plant-based proteins,” Fred Halvin, Vice President of Corporate Development at Hormel Foods, said in a statement at the time.
Hormel is also exploring plant-based options in other major arms of its business. In 2022, Hormel launched Hormel Plant-Based Chili with Beans, a vegan (but still meaty) version of its classic chili made with textured vegetable protein and soy-based crumble, to deliver the same texture, taste, and appearance as the original but without animal products.
The vegan certification of Skippy is a reflection of the shifting dynamics in the food industry and consumer preferences. It’s an affirmation of the growing influence of conscious consumerism on traditional food giants.