FARM SCENE: Peanut Use Up, Possibly Helped By Y2K Fears (AP) : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

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FARM SCENE: Peanut use up, possibly helped by Y2K fears
ELLIOTT MINOR, Associated Press Writer
Monday, January 24, 2000

[Fair Use: For Educational/Research Purposes Only]

(01-24) 02:18 PST ALBANY, Ga. (AP) -- When Americans stocked up on essentials to carry them through the uncertainties of the Y2K changeover, they apparently included peanut butter.

Peanut butter sales climbed 2 percent to 3 percent in October and November, a period when grocers usually see a 5 percent drop, said Mitch Head, executive director of the Peanut Advisory Board, which represents growers in Georgia, Alabama and Florida.

``We don't really know it was related (to Y2K stockpiling), but there was nothing else going on in the marketplace,'' Head said. ``Retailers across the country told us they were seeing increases in the sales of bottled water, peanut butter, bread and batteries.''

The unexpected sales surge is one of several positive signs for peanuts, a major Southern crop that was battered in the 1990s by consumer fears over its fat content, a controversy over peanut allergies and a drop in government purchases for domestic food-assistance programs.

U.S. peanut consumption bottomed out at 1.5 million pounds in 1995. Since then, it has been climbing steadily, reaching 1.6 million pounds last year.

``All the things that are happening are good and the things that were happening that were bad aren't happening anymore,'' Head said.

The not-so-humble peanut is a $400 million crop in Georgia, second only to cotton among the state's row crops. Nearly half of the nation's domestic peanut supplies are grown in Georgia.

The industry responded aggressively to the decline in consumption by developing innovative new products and by funding research to address the fat and allergy issues.

Among the innovations: Jif's chocolate- and fruit-flavored peanut butters, called Sensations; Smuckers' frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwiches; and a New York restaurant, Peanut Butter & Co., that offers sandwiches and desserts.

To help protect the future of the crop, growers voted for the first time in 1998 to create the National Peanut Board, funded by an assessment on the peanuts they sell. The assessment, collected for the first time last year, is expected to provide $10 million a year for research and promotion.

The Peanut Institute, an organization that represents peanut-shelling companies, has funded research to prove that foods high in monounsaturated fat -- the type found in peanuts and olive oil -- can reduce the incidence of heart disease.

While all of these efforts have helped, it was a change in eating habits that had the most impact, Head said.

``We went to the extreme on the fat issue,'' he said. ``Now we're coming back to the foods that we knew and loved, in moderation.''

When the allergy issue arose a few years ago, the Federal Aviation Administration tried unsuccessfully to mandate peanut-free zones on airliners and some schools banned peanut butter from lunchrooms.

The industry is addressing allergy concerns on three fronts: a peanut vaccine that is undergoing human trials; research aimed at making sufferers resistant to the allergens in peanuts; and efforts to create an allergy-free peanut.

-- Diane J. Squire (, January 26, 2000


Good late night article:)

I wonder if the manufacturers anticipated increased sales and so over- produced. Dec peanut butter was 2 for 1 in VA.

Does that count as a y2k incident, heh.

-- Hokie (, January 26, 2000.

FROZEN PB&Js? Mousie

-- Mousie (, January 26, 2000.

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