U.S. farmers are expected to produce roughly 1.8 million tons of peanuts this year, down nearly 13 percent from last year, according to a survey released Wednesday by the Department of Agriculture. Assuming that estimate holds, it would be smallest harvest recorded since 2006.
Peanut butter producers nationwide plan to raise peanut butter prices in the coming months. According to an Associated Press report, J.M. Smucker Co., makers of Jif peanut butter, expect to raise its wholesale prices 30 percent in November. Kraft Foods Co., plans to raise its Planters peanut butter prices 40 percent at the end of this month, with more brands expected to follow suit throughout the year.
Prices for the Spanish peanut have increased more than eight times over from $142 per ton to $1,190 within the last year; while Virginia peanuts have increased from $153 per ton to $1,203, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. The Runner peanut, the most common nut used in peanut butter, has risen from $450 per ton to $1,199 from last year.
David Jordan, who studies peanut crops and teaches Agronomics at North Carolina State University, attributes the increase in price to a perfect storm of fewer crops being planted by farmers and droughts hitting the southern peanut producing states. He said peanuts are the most expensive crop to raise, causing farmers to overlook the nut in favor of more profitable crops.
Jordan said he doesn’t expect peanut prices to return to normal until fall 2012, when more peanut crops may be available.
So, dig up your peanut butter coupons and get to the nearest double coupon store near you and stock up!