I don’t get it. I was at the supermarket the other day looking for a new jar of peanut butter to have in the house (though I’m rather partial to fresh ground almond butter, but that’s another story) and while I’m savvy enough to automatically skip all the regular peanut butter options on the shelf, I did look closely at the “natural” or “organic” brands.
They both appear to be natural peanut butter, both better options than the “regular” peanut butter on the store shelf, but close inspection reveals that Jif isn’t actually selling peanut butter at all, but rather “peanut butter spread” since it’s only 90% peanuts.
Which begs the question: what the heck is the other 10%?
But wait a sec. What’s in the non-Natural Jif peanut butter spread? The label says: roasted peanuts, sugar, molasses, fully hydrogenated oils (rapeseed & soybean), mono and diglycerides and salt. Every 32g of regular Jif has 3g of sugar. The Natural version, by comparison, has fewer ingredients — peanuts, sugar, palm oil, salt, molasses — but still has 3g of sugar per 2 Tbsp serving. Huh? So what’s natural about this “Natural” product?
Meanwhile, Smucker’s Natural peanut butter has two ingredients: peanuts, 1% or less of salt. That’s it. And it has 1g of naturally occurring sugar and gets to use the name “peanut butter” without having the disclaimer of ‘spread’. Hmm…
I asked Jif’s customer service team the question of “what’s the other 10%” and their answer certainly doesn’t answer my question very well, but revealed a surprising fact:
Thank you for contacting The J.M. Smucker Company regarding Jif® Natural Peanut Butter Spread. We always enjoy hearing from consumers and are pleased to know you enjoy our products.
In response to your inquiry, the ingredients in Jif® Natural Peanut Butter Spread are as follows: peanuts, sugar, palm oil, contains 2% or less of: salt, molasses. The “2% or less of” in the ingredient statement means there is 2% or less of each individual ingredient.
Consumer Relations Representative
Um, okay. So maybe they don’t know what’s in the mystery 10% non-peanut ingredients, but what surprised me the most is that Smucker’s owns the Jif brand. So apparently the idea is that if you really want a natural peanut butter, you’ll buy Smucker’s, but if you want a “spread” that has added sugar (and do any kids need added sugar?) you’ll pick up the Jif brand peanut butter.
And that “Natural”? Yeah, that’s part of the misdirection. There’s not much natural to me when a peanut butter has to have 10% non-peanut ingredients, including adding both sugar and molasses.
Makes me wonder what other foods have been subtly tweaked from healthy to unhealthy without me paying sufficiently close attention to the label. Makes me glad I can get fresh ground 100% almond butter at the market too.