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Skippy peanut butter no longer for sale in Canada; fans stockpiling last jars

Much to fans' dismay, Skippy peanut butter has been discontinued in Canada. It's still available in more than 60 countries. Owner, Hormel says it cut Canada due to factors like competition that hurt the brand’s profitability.

Brand still available in more than 60 countries across globe

Lori May, of Bowmanville, Ont., with one of her last jars of Canadian-bought Skippy peanut butter. (Larry May)

After CBC News ran a story this week about the quiet discontinuation of Dad's chocolate chip cookies, we received a tip about the mysterious disappearance of another food classic — Skippy peanut butter.

We're sorry to spread the news to Skippy fans: the peanut butter — both the crunchy and smooth version — is no longer available in Canada.

Skippy lovers who've already figured it out have been stockpiling jars.

"I'm really mad at Skippy," says Jim Hazzard in Alliston, Ont. He recently snagged a store's last two jars and is trying to savour every bite. "I'm very careful how much I use," he said.

Skippy's owner, U.S.-based Hormel Foods, discontinued the brand in Canada several months ago, and then it slowly disappeared from store shelves.

Hormel says it stopped selling Skippy in this country due to factors like competition and pricing that hurt the brand's profitability.

"It was an incredibly difficult decision to withdraw Skippy peanut butter from the Canadian market," said spokesperson Brian Olson in an email to CBC News.

An image taken from video of a classic mid-1980s Skippy peanut butter TV commercial. (Retrontario/YouTube)

Canadian fans feeling singled out may have every right. The product is still available in more than 60 countries including the U.S., China and the U.K.

Hormel acquired the Skippy brand from the Anglo-Dutch company Unilever in 2013.

Canada's small population may be a big factor why Hormel halted Skippy sales here, says Sylvain Charlebois, a professor at Dalhousie University specializing in food distribution and policy.

"We're a vast country with only 36 million people. The distribution costs are really high," Charlebois said, adding that the extra cost of required French labelling may have also been a deterrent.

"If the economics doesn't make sense, multinationals like Hormel often decide just not to exploit certain markets."

Sticking to Skippy

Skippy peanut butter first came on the market in 1933. It has been a staple in many Canadian households, including the May family's home in Bowmanville, Ont.

Larry and Lori May have stuck to Skippy throughout their 26-year marriage.

"It's been our favourite peanut butter of choice," said Larry May. "The kids were raised on it."

Larry May says he and wife Lori have stuck to Skippy since they married 26 years ago. (Lori May)

Everything was going smoothly until recently when the couple could no longer find the brand.

A desperate Lori May asked a friend working at a grocery store to investigate. "I said, 'Put your feelers out there. For some reason, Skippy's nowhere to be found, and I really need it.'"

The friend delivered the bad news that the product had been discontinued.

Larry May's brother, who lives with the couple, brought home a jar of Kraft peanut butter, but that just didn't cut it.

"It's going to take him a while to go through that, because we won't eat it," Larry May said. "It's just not as creamy, doesn't spread right."

The determined couple put out the word on social media and to friends that they were on a hunt for Skippy.

An employee at Lori May's auto parts store came to the rescue, scoring her boss eight jars of Skippy smooth peanut butter at a clearance sale at a Shoppers Drug Mart in Oshawa, Ont.

"I was happy when she came in with the bags, that's for sure," Lori May recalled. "I'm good for a while."

Lori and Larry May have 7 jars left of Canadian-bought Skippy peanut butter. Six jars are at home; the 7th is at Lori's workplace. (Larry May)

In preparation for when they run out, Larry May asked the official Skippy Facebook site if he could order the product online. It referred him to Amazon's Canadian website.

Amazon's high prices turned him off. Current prices per jar range from about $10 to $30 for regular peanut butter to almost $100 for the "reduced fat" version. Shipping can cost extra.

In the future, the Mays say they'll stock up on Skippy during U.S. shopping trips. They still have seven jars to get through, however.

Unfortunately for Hazzard in Alliston, Ont., he's almost finished his stash of two jars of Skippy crunchy peanut butter — his favourite.

"I like the texture, I like the amount of nuts in the crunch," he said. "It's just great on toast."

Jim Hazzard is almost at the end of his Skippy peanut butter stash. (Jim Hazzard)

When his supply is depleted, Hazzard figures it's game over for him because he finds the U.S. brand too sweet.

According to Hormel's Skippy website, the now defunct Canadian smooth and crunchy versions actually contained 1-3 fewer grams of sugar per serving compared to their U.S. counterparts.

"It just changes the whole flavour if you sweeten it up," said Hazzard.

When he complained about the loss of his beloved Skippy peanut butter on Facebook, Hormel's Skippy site replied, "Sorry for the inconvenience, Jim!"

"Forget the 'Sorry for the inconvenience,'" Hazzard says. "Bring it back."

Hormel said it hopes to reintroduce Skippy to the Canadian market one day. It didn't suggest when or explain what conditions would be required to make that happen.

About the Author

Sophia Harris

Business reporter sophia.harris@cbc.ca

Sophia Harris has worked as a CBC video journalist across the country, covering everything from the start of the annual lobster fishery in Yarmouth, N.S., to farming in Saskatchewan. She now has found a good home at the business unit in Toronto where she produces for national TV news and writes and shoots and edits video for CBC.ca. Twitter: @sophiaharrisCBC

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