When it comes to shelf-stable food items that can help round out a pandemic emergency pantry, peanut butter is a solid addition to the list. However, even before the spread of COVID-19, nut butters had been enjoying a certain spotlight in the food world.

In recent years, the nut butter aisle has transformed from primarily peanut butter to include a wide range of butters–from almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, and more. To better understand the current food trends, CivicScience asked more than 1,600 U.S. adults about their nut butter preferences.

As the data show, while 88% of respondents say peanut butter is their go-to nut butter, 12% prefer a peanut alternative.

And when shopping for a nut butter, the majority of consumers believe that brand and price are equally important.

Brand Breakdown 

While many consumers are seeking a brand and price that meets their needs, within the world of nut butters, the brand competition in and of itself is fierce. However, the data paint a clear picture of the nut butter hierarchy, with Jif blowing all other nut butter brands out of the water. As it turns out, 40% of U.S. adults like Jif a lot — that’s a solid 14 percentage points more than the first runner-up. Note that the data is rebased among those who have had the brands.

Behind Jif — in terms of popularity — is Skippy. Smuckers and Peter Pan are tied for third, while Justin’s brings up the rear.

Nut Butter Type by Brand  

Many of these more established brands–the ones you grew up eating–may have made a name for themselves with peanut butter. But in recent years, and as a response to the increasing demand for alternative nut butters, many of the oldest household names have begun to diversify their offerings. 

Fan favorite, Jif, is an excellent example of one such company. As the data show, Jif ranks highly amongst alternative and traditional nut butter fans — putting it at a slight advantage over those who appeal to only one type of nut butter consumer. Skippy, Smucker’s and Peter Pan all carry more appeal for those who prefer peanut butter. However — and not surprisingly — Justin’s largely appeals to the alternative nut butter crowd.

Brand by Gender/Age

When it comes to making a peanut butter purchase, additional factors such as gender and age also play a role. 

Key findings: 

  • Women are the biggest supporters of Jif
  • While Peter Pan fans are also split on gender, the 65+ crowd brings the strongest support
  • As for Justin’s, favorability skews more female and younger–though pockets of older adults feel strongly about the brand as well
  • Smucker’s fans are relatively split in terms of gender, with stronger support from younger adults, overall 
  • Skippy, on the other hand, attracts a slightly more male and slightly older crowd

Despite the wide range of nut butter companies on the market, at the end of the day, Jif comes out ahead of the rest. Its secret to success may be in large part due to its popularity amongst a wide range of nut butter lovers. Add to that the fact that Jif appeals to a more female and slightly more established crowd–those who may be doing much of the grocery shopping–and it’s clear how this nut butter brand has created some truly stand out spreads.