Has It Really Been 10 Years?

amanda huberAs the spring rolls on, the hope for better crop prices in peanuts or any rotation partner continues to diminish, as does the hope for a reduction in the peanut stockpile or improved trade. Frequent rains are keeping producers out of the field when they should be planting corn.

When this happens, it tends to lead to more peanuts because it is a later-planted crop. Unexpected and/or additional peanut acres is something that is not needed.

All of this had me wondering what was happening 10 years ago. Since I have been around that long and then some, I pulled a file off the shelf and went through the magazines until I found April 2009.

Recognizing the cover instantly, I know exactly what was going on at that time. In early 2009, the peanut industry was reeling from the salmonella outbreak and the subsequent recall of peanut butter and products containing peanut butter.

Tyron Spearman, Marketing Editor, wrote, “The difficulty in today’s farming environment is to be optimistic about anything. The entire peanut industry has been battered about the recall. All segments are searching for ways to improve markets and remain optimistic.”

He continued, “The [National Peanut Board] survey shows that almost 20 percent of consumers have stopped eating peanut butter, even though it was not part of the recall.”

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The industry crisis came on the heels of a 2008 acreage increase of nearly 25 percent, which meant a big carryover. The factors creating the market lull are different now, but the result is nearly the same.

I said I instantly recognized the cover of that April 2009 issue and that’s because it was a picture of Roger Neitsch, Texas producer and NPB chairman at the time. Long before the salmonella situation unfolded, the NPB had planned a big event in New York City to unveil their new tagline, “Energy For The Good Life.” An event at Grand Central Station targeted consumers and another at the Astor Center involved well-known chefs and the culinary press.

As I wrote in my editorial then, the response was very positive and it was a tremendous boost to producers and industry folks in attendance. Think of how far that energy-promoting slogan took peanut consumption, and energy benefits are still highlighted today.

There’s always an ebb and flow to peanuts and we just have to hope we reach low tide soon and we’ll begin to rise again.