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The best in the businesss

The smell of warm peanut butter wafts through the front office. The monotonous drone of machinery flows through hallways, growing louder each time doors are opened.

These distinct smells and sounds are the byproducts of a local success story.

Marantha Organic Nut Butters have been produced in Ashland for more than 20 years. What began as a small natural foods distribution company has grown into the producers of the leading natural peanut butter in the natural foods industry and the number one selling organic peanut butter in the country

The Ashland-based nut butter business is booming. Marantha makes nut butters that range from peanut and almond, to cashew and tahini. Marantha organic peanut butter has become so popular that Costco stores around Oregon have started carrying it as well as other large retail chains like Albertsons and Safeway.

"Our business has increased 40 percent in just one year," says Vice President of Operations Jeff Williams. "And our organic business has increased to the point that 60 percent of our productions are organic now."

A lot of the nut butters produced by Marantha are produced in bulk and used by energy bar and protein drink manufactures.

"The natural foods industry is growing tremendously and this company was in the right place at the right time," says Williams.

What sets Marantha nut butters apart from most commercial peanut butters is that it contains no sugars, stabilizers, colors, says Williams. Nothing besides the nuts and salt make it into a jar of Marantha nut butter.

From nuts to butter

All of the Marantha nut butters are made in Ashland. Nuts from around the world are shipped into the plant. Upon arriving in Ashland, the transformation from a nut to a butter begins. First the nuts are poured into a large gas-flame roaster, and then they are moved into another machine to cool. Once cooled, the nuts are transported into an adjacent room where they are crushed until butter forms. From that point the nut butter is jarred, labeled, and boxed for shipment.

Different machinery is used to produce each different type of nut butter. With many possible food allergies the machines are cleaned every time there is a switch between nuts.

"Breaking down the machines takes almost a whole day, but we clean every inch of it. Someone may be deathly ill to peanuts and only be able to eat almond butter. We don't want to take any risks," says Williams.

With the increasing demand for natural and organic nut butters the Marantha plant is already bursting at the seams as the business continues to grow.

"We really do think we make the best nut butter in the country," says Williams. "Between some of my colleagues and I, we have over 100 years experience in making a good product. And based on our growth the consumers think that too."