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Pricey Peanut Butter Ahead For U. S. Consumers

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Most of us will dig deeper into our pockets to buy peanut butter in the coming year and U.S. Department of Agriculture Economist, Tiffany Arthur, says the problem may have started last spring when growers planted about 10 percent fewer acres of peanuts than the year before. Growers have been cutting back on planting since 2008, because other crops were more profitable.

“This past year prices for competing crops, particularly cotton, were very high when farmers were making the decision as to what to plant. That’s the primary reason that peanut acreage shrunk as much as it did this past year.’

The problem came when bad weather led to poor production on the acreage that was planted. This summer it was a combination of too much heat and not enough water.

John Beasley is a USDA extension peanut expert at the University of Georgia. About 45 percent of the nations peanuts are produced in Georgia and they had horrible weather.

“We planted less acreage in Georgia and our yield is going to be down. Texas, typically the number two producing state, is having a complete disaster out there and so their tonnage is going to be considerably off.”

On top of all that, demand for peanut products are up across the country.

Tiffany Arther says consumers are turning to peanuts for both dietary and monetary reasons.

“They’re a healthy inexpensive protein. They’re high in healthy fat and are associated with reduced risk of heart disease.”

Over the last few years manufacturers have put more peanuts into more products increasing the demand further.

USDA experts say you can expect prices to go up on all peanut products over the next year until they harvest a new crop this time next year.

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