Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Global Peanut Shortage

Has anyone noticed the price of peanut butter? It's really high and the stir kind that I like has been out of stock in my grocery store on and off since December. There was a note on the shelf indicating a global peanut shortage.

Peanut Shortage Will Require Demand Rationing, Oil World Says
"U.S. prices for peanuts, crushed to make cooking oil and used in Unilever’s Skippy peanut butter and Mars Inc.’s Snickers bars, jumped 49% in the past 12 months.

“World demand will need to be rationed this season."
Looks like droughts in the US and Africa have dried up peanut crops:
"Another hot, dry summer in key producing states and competition from more profitable crops like cotton have significantly shrunk the U.S. peanut crop this year.

Peanut farmers had to delay planting this spring because of the heat, which cut their production. Others saw the plants they'd put in the ground scorch during the summer when the shoots, which poke back into the ground to produce the peanut seed, burned as they touched the hot soil.

Georgia, the largest peanut-producing state in the country, saw record-breaking heat and a lack of rainfall that prevented some peanut seeds from even germinating in the field. Other plants that did grow were baked in the hot summer sun, producing poor-quality nuts or sometimes nothing at all."
With the warmer temperatures this Spring already, there may not be relief this year. Maybe China can make up our shortfall?
That's a photo of my peanut butter.


Angela and Melinda said...

Well, dang. PB is a major food group in itself for me! Will have to check price of organic PB at Trader Joe's.

Claudia said...

I buy organic peanut butter that you have to stir too. It used to have the peanut skins in it but now it's just bland skinless, bleh. It's just peanuts and salt. They have other organic pb with palm oil and sugar in it. Give me a break! I just want peanuts. Last I checked it was $4 and some change. Might even be $4.99 for the 1 lb jar. A lot if you ask me.

Bix said...

Palm oil and sugar ... Why are they putting those in peanut butter? You have to conclude, when the ones with added oil and sugar are cheaper, that the peanuts are the expensive item. And they make more money by adding cheap filler and marketing it as "New! Improved! Now Better Taste!"

There's a little part of me that ... even though I know I'm being duped ... picks up the New! and Improved! jar and feels like it's better or something.

Ben B. DaSalt said...

What Bix? Legumes again? ;)

I’m a longtime peanut butter purist. I grew up with the sweetened hydrogenated varieties (Skippy, Jif, and whatnot), but I can’t stand them now. Travesties. Don’t even get me started on the “improved” peanut butters. I wasn’t shopping in my usual store and almost picked up a jar containing egg whites. Egg whites? What for? More protien?

Anyway, you guys don’t have the peanut butter machine near you?

A hopper full of peanuts on top, flip the switch and fresh ground peanut (or almond) butter comes out of the bottom into your container.

(Image here )

These machines are usually at health food stores or Wholefoods.

It’s a fresh as you can get without making it yourself and having to clean out the food processor (major drag). Because it’s ground right before your eyes, it has no time to sit on a shelf and separate, so no stirring.

Only thing it doesn’t do is chunky style, but you could scoop some peanuts from the top bin, take them home, roughly chop them up and add them later. I sometimes do this on a per sandwich basis, sprinkling whatever chopped nuts (almonds, pecans, cashews, sunflower seeds, whatever) I have on hand after I spread the peanut butter.

For some reason I get the feeling that the peanut shortages may not affect organic peanuts, or at least, I haven’t noticed any price increase. It may be the larger conventional peanut suppliers that took the hit, but I’ll remember to take notice of any price change next time I pick up peanut butter.

Okay, one more peanut butter tidbit, from George Washington Carver, the popularizer of peanuts and peanut butter"

How to Grow the Peanut and 105 Ways of Preparing it for Human Consumption

Check out those peanut recipes!

Bix said...

I think the Whole Foods near me has that machine. Hm. Do you think it's clean? I'm going to try it.

The last time I was at Whole foods I was gobsmacked to see a 1 lb jar of almond butter for $17! The shelves where peanut butter should have been were full of cashew and almond butter. Is this a new trend? Or just a fill-in for out-of-stock peanut butter?

Bix said...

This is interesting...


Grind 1/2 pound of roasted peanuts, 1/2 pound pecans, 1 ounce hickory nuts, and 1/2 pound walnut meats. Mix with six very ripe bananas; pack in a mould, and steam continuously for two hours; when done remove from lid of kettle or mould, and when mixture is cold turn out and serve the same as roast meat sliced thin for sandwiches, or with cold tomato sauce or other sauce.

Angela and Melinda said...

Price of organic pb at TJs now 3.99 (regular peanuts)& $4.99 for Valencia peanuts. That's 16 oz each, & each just dry-roasted nuts (w/ or w/o salt). Bix, that price for almond butter is outrageous! Much better to buy some fresh almonds & grind 'em yourself in food processor. Claudia, I never saw organic pb w/ sugar & palm oil.
Bix, that vegan meat substitute sounds like it would be awfully sweet, doesn't it?

Bix said...

Melinda, what are you doing inside on such a beautiful day? (Wait, where am I.) I just planted some arugula. I hope the squirrels don't dig it up looking for old nuts.

I may try to take a photo with my phone of that $17 almond butter.

Bix said...

Those bananas threw me off it. You know ... I don't like sweet so much.

But the cold tomato sauce ... when I would get home really late from night classes and didn't have any dinner, I would spread peanut butter on toast and dip that in cold tomato sauce. My god, I love it to this day. (The bread has changed though.)

Bix said...

Peanut butter at $4 and $5 per pound rivals the price of meat.

Angela and Melinda said...

My Mom loved PB and catsup sandwiches! I never quite got into them, though they aren't bad. I'm half-tempted to try that "meat"loaf...
Good luck w/ the arugula--my problem w/ it is that it bolts almost immediately. Still, the taste is SO amazing--love it!
I was inside for quite a while, dealing w/ sick cat & dog. Sigh. Did get out to take a walk in later afternoon.
So you're saying that squirrel is looking for me (old nut)??!!

Claudia said...

Dr. Mel here's the organic pb with palm oil and sugar:

The ingredient list is Organic Peanuts, Organic Palm Oil, Organic Sugar, Sea Salt.

Ben P. DaSalt said...

Bix said,
“I think the Whole Foods near me has that machine. Hm. Do you think it's clean? I'm going to try it.”

The turnaround is pretty fast at the peanut butter machines I use, so I’m not that paranoid that they are dirty. I suppose if the beginning of the grind has been sitting around for a while, scrapping off that bit might be a good idea before filling your container, but again, if someone used the machine right before you, probably not an issue.

Also, I’m not sure if the grinder uses heat or if the heat is just a byproduct of the grinding, but the peanut butter comes out slightly warm (and is slightly unappetizing when a warm brownish paste from an extruder fills your cup) maybe the heat is enough to sort of pasteurize it, I’m not sure, but sound plausible.

Only downside I’ve experienced has been one health food store I visited just had nasty tasting peanuts in the hopper that I didn’t realize were nasty tasting until I got home. Not sure if the peanuts were old or just a different variety that didn’t agree with me, but that’s only ever happened once.

The fresh ground almond butter at my nearby Wholefoods runs something like $7.99 a pound (or is it $8.99?), it’s good, but less oily than jar almond butter which makes me suspect that jar versions add almond oil to make it more viscous. The dryness of the ground version isn’t a bad quality, just a difference, it needs to be somewhat packed onto sandwich bread as it’s not as spreadable. I like the dry texture. There are pretty pricey raw organic nut butters in my local health food store. I don’t buy them, but I don’t think it’s all that unreasonable if quality nut butter is important to someone. Its relative I guess.

I think the difference with the expensive almond butter is that the almonds aren’t pasteurized (probably this brand running for $16 on Amazon and $20 at my local health food store) so I’m not so sure that it’s a matter of just grinding up store bought almonds, but of course, this assumes you or I care about the principles of raw food. If someone cares, I guess it’s worth it.

As for the preponderance of cashew and almond butter at Wholefoods, my guess is there’s a limit of brands of natural peanut butters, and the natural nut butter companies tend to do the almond and cashew butters as well. People probably buy up more of the peanut butter out of familiarity and cost so the other nut butters move slower. Compare it to a normal supermarket; there are a bunch of “different” brands and styles of peanut butter (that aren’t all that different) and not much of the other butters, if any at all.

I checked out the peanut butter status at my local health food store. The peanut butter machine was empty, but that’s not unusual, it gets used up fairly quick as I mentioned. Price was still something like $3.79 a pound for organic roasted peanuts, and I’m pretty sure it’s always been around that price.

Dr. Mels said,
“Bix, that vegan meat substitute sounds like it would be awfully sweet, doesn't it?”
“I'm half-tempted to try that “meat”loaf...”

Who said peanut sausage was a vegan meat substitute? Carver was no vegan, just a peanut (and other vegetables) enthusiast. The term sausage originally meant seasoned with salt. Now we take it to mean cigar-shaped whatever. If you can put peanut butter on a sandwich, you can put sliced peanut sausage on a sandwich, no need for “meat” in quotations. No one calls meat loaf a “bread” substitute because it's loaf shaped. Now if we were talking about number 39, mock veal cutlets, well okay then (thought the butter and egg would have to be substituted for it to be suitable for vegans).

Any recorded attempt to make that G.W. Carver peanut sausage is pretty much a ready-made blog post.

Anonymous said...

I have an idea. Let's all stop using peanut butter and then will have to cry about it all being a hoax. Amazing how when sales are down producers create a shortage, and after the surplus is back the price never returns to what it was before the great shortage.

Anonymous said...

I have an idea. Let's all stop using peanut butter and then will have to cry about it all being a hoax. Amazing how when sales are down producers create a shortage, and after the surplus is back the price never returns to what it was before the great shortage.