Well, count another reason the weather is costing us more to feed our hungry stomachs. The hot, dry summer devastated the peanut crop, sending prices for the legume skyrocketing and forcing peanut-butter brands across the board to raise prices.
Wholesale prices charged by the big producers are going up some 24-40% this fall. These brands include Jiffy, Skippy, Peter Pan and Planters. Smaller producers are feeling the price crunch as well, but might not have the luxury of raising wholesale prices too much. Of course, not all of the wholesale price increase will be passed along to consumers, but some of it will.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates spot prices this fall is $1,000.00-$1,500.00 for a ton of unprocessed “Runner” peanuts, commonly used in peanut-butter. One year ago the spot price was around $450.00. A pound of shelled peanuts would fetch about $1.00-$1.40 a pound compared to 52 cents a year ago.
In store peanut butter prices could increase some 10-30% soon, if not already. That’s a huge increase compared to the 6% or so increase in the broad food category the past few months.
It wasn’t only the weather, a lot of farmers reduced their peanut crops volume in favor of other commodities that were and are seeking higher prices per acre, such as cotton.
Of added concern is the quality of the crop. Scorching heat singed many peanut plants as they developed, leaving more peanuts destined to be processed into oil, rather than edible-quality that’s shelled and turned into peanut butter. Only about 38% of the peanut crop was rated “good” this year compared to 60% last year…which wasn’t great to begin with.
Some companies are, at least temporarily, have stopped making some varieties of peanut butter blends and spreads, as well as reducing some styles total output, to offset price increases.
So, now what for you and I? Well, there’s always the old tuna sandwich. But wait, I wanted peanut butter. I guess we’ll have to eat more bread and jelly for our buck.
By: George Elliott