Fort Worth company tries a new tune: Buy me some peanut (butter) and Cracker Jacks
HomePlate Peanut Butter officials say the company offers a high-end, high-quality peanut butter aiming to score with not just the ball-playing community, but at discerning consumers around the country.
“Play ball!” echoed across the country’s ballparks during the past few days as baseball season began.
And, particularly in minor league parks, the cries of “pass the peanut butter” may also have reached the clubhouse. Peanut butter is a staple at minor league parks, where players don’t quite earn the six-figure incomes of their Major League counterparts.
“Minor league players say it’s almost the ramen noodle of minor leagues,” said Joseph DeWoody, CEO of Fort Worth-based HomePlate Peanut Butter.
HomePlate Peanut Butter was founded in 2015 by a team of former professional baseball players and entrepreneurs in Austin. Last year, Fort Worth-based Valor Management Consulting, a business management, process outsourcing and advisory firm and a subsidiary of Valor Mineral Management, began to manage the product and its brand. DeWoody is CEO of Valor as well.
“We’re in the process of really trying to put roots down here and bring it to town,” he said. “We’re getting involved with some local companies here in Fort Worth and advertising in the Little Leagues around here and working to build the brand here.”
Among that area outreach is a partnership with FunkyTown Donuts which created a donut combining HomePlate Peanut Butter, chocolate and M&Ms for baseball season. Customers who buy the HomePlate donut also get a sticker touting the HomePlate Peanut Butter brand.
“They made a great HomePlate donut,” said Hannah Jones, chief marketing officer for HomePlate. “We’re trying to find ways that we can work with other brands that have established themselves and also seen great success like FunkyTown.”
Peanuts and baseball have a long association. According to the National Peanut Board, peanuts have been sold as a concession at ballparks since 1895.
Shawn Ferguson, an entrepreneur in Aledo, was in minor league baseball for several years and said peanut butter was a part of his life during his time in the minors.
“The pre-game meal was always a snack, and peanut butter was always there,” he said. “You kind of feel like a little kid.”
Eventually, the players figure out their favorite peanut butter recipe, he said.
“Mine was creamy Jif, on bread with some honey and, if you have a knife, with the crust cut off,” he said.
HomePlate Peanut Butter is in a growing market. Sales of peanut butter increased during the pandemic, according to The Peanut Institute. Total peanut consumption grew to 7.6 pounds per capita in 2019-2020 with peanut butter growing 5.1% to 56% of total peanut consumption.
HomePlate Peanut Butter comes in three varieties: smooth, crunchy and honey. The product is made in Georgia and is priced about $5.99 per 16-ounce jar and is considered to be on the premium end of the peanut butter market.
“We’re not competing with Jif and Skippy,” said DeWoody.
The product is also touted as healthier than most traditional peanut butters.
“We use palm fruit oil instead of hydrogenated oils, and we don’t use emulsifiers and GMO ingredients like you see in some cheaper brands,” said Liz Jang, president.
“We even have a subscription service,” said Jones. “People love the honey version. I think we just got the perfect blend of salty and a little sweet, and we use real honey, whereas a lot of other brands will use a powdered honey.”
The product also does well overseas, Jang said, particularly in Japan where baseball has a large fan base.
Chris Reale, owner/operator at Roy Pope Grocery, the longtime westside store that was refurbished in 2021, said he is a big supporter of local products like HomePlate.
“Customers are looking for special items like that and the fact that it’s a company based in Fort Worth is something our customers really look for,” he said.
For DeWoody, who has long been involved with Valor Mineral Management which provides oil and gas accounting, mineral management and consulting services, the move into consumer retail products is a little different. But if a client needs those services, Valor will provide them, he said.
“We create functional teams to come in and help out as needed. So we have accounting and logistics and operations and then marketing services,” DeWoody said.
But he and the other managers are excited about the opportunities provided by HomePlate Peanut Butter.
“It is a first-class product that has an outstanding brand foundation. Our goal is to continue its brand growth and presence in the peanut butter spread space,” said DeWoody.
Bob Francis is business editor for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at email@example.com.