Baseball might be on its way back, but 2.3 million pounds of in-shell peanuts won’t be cracked at ballparks this year. Forever linked to the sport in ‘Take Me Out To The Ballgame,’ peanuts are one of the top snacks for baseball fans, which farmers eagerly anticipate.
Anticipating a season, farmers harvested the peanuts in October, shipping them to roasters. Now those roasters, who already paid the farmers, are trying to figure out what to do with hoards of unused peanuts – a specific breed with the look and size for the ballpark.
The peanut market is complex. Virginias, the breed used, are more delicate and more expensive to produce than runner peanuts, the variety used in peanut butter. With this year’s crop normally destined for ballparks currently unused, farmers also had to project how much to plant for next season.
On the plus side for baseball fans: the National Peanut Board and grocery stores are reportedly planning promotions featuring free bags. Retail sales in May for shelled Virginias were up 15% year-over-year and have remained steady. By comparison, peanut butter sales in March were up 75%.
Baseball Peanut Facts
— 14% of U.S. peanut crop are Virginias
— 20% of Virginia peanuts head to ballparks
— 8% of MiLB’s 40 million attendees buy a bag.
— 6% of fans in MLB do so.