Friday, April 12, 2024

News Briefs: April 2024

In brief: Roundtable discussion: 42% of consumers consider sustainability in purchasing. The value of the 2023 peanut crop increased 7.5% over the previous year. Check for your NPB referendum ballot; return postmarked by April 19.  Exports to Europe increase significantly, putting the continent ahead of China as the industry’s third-largest export market. Make plans to attend Peanut Congress, American Peanut Research and Education Society meetings.  Georgia Ports Authority completes billion-dollar infrastructure improvements, plans billions more.

Sustainability Roundtable

Representatives from the manufacturing, shelling and grower segments of the peanut industry came together recently for a forum on sustainability. Highlighted were the efforts underway by the industry to capture metrics on sustainable practices. Hosted by the American Peanut Council, leaders from each sector discussed marketplace demands and shared how growers are rising to meet these expectations.

As consumer demand continues to grow for measurable sustainable food production practices, so does pressure from manufacturers, retailers and international trading partners. According to a 2023 report from global consulting firm Kearney, 42% of U.S. consumers say they consider sustainable food practices when making purchasing decisions.

To meet these expectations, the American Peanut Council is spearheading an industry-wide effort to benchmark growers’ sustainable practices. The Sustainable U.S. Peanuts Initiative is supporting America’s 7,000-plus peanut farmers with metrics on the most efficient use of on-farm resources, as well as encouraging farm operation sustainability practices that will help lead to increased demand for peanuts and set the stage for long-term economic viability for growers.

“We are constantly aware of our sustainability,” says Dan Ward, a seventh-generation grower who is president of the North Carolina Peanut Growers Association and chair of APC’s Sustainability Committee. “From grid sampling for the best use of fertilizer applications to staying on top of research of new varieties that allow fewer trips across the field, we are continually striving to limit our footprint. Not only is this important for the environment, but we want our farms to be financially sustainable for the next generation.”

Michael Campagna, vice president of Quality, Food Safety and Regulatory at John B. Sanfilippo & Son, whose brands include Fisher, Squirrel Brand and Orchard Valley Harvest, as well as private label, says, “Having the statistical confidence provided by Sustainable U.S. Peanuts will, in the long run, help us all sell more peanuts and peanut butter. The initiative is creating those stories for the farmers who want to be more efficient, provide more yield and show to consumers peanuts’ positive sustainability story.”

To learn more about the Sustainable U.S. Peanuts Initiative, visit sustainableuspeanuts.org.

2023 Crop Value

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, the price of peanuts averaged 27 cents per pound, or $540 per ton last season, 0.7% higher than 2022. The value of the 2023 peanut crop at farm level was $1.6 billion, a 7.5% increase from 2022. Harvested peanut acres were increased 14%.

The highest average price was paid in Texas at $924 per ton followed by New Mexico at $816 per ton. The lowest average price was paid in Alabama at $498 per ton. About 49% of the revenue from peanuts was produced in Georgia. Ranking second with revenue is Texas at 13.4%, followed by North Carolina at 8.9% and Florida at 8.5%.

NPB Referendum Dates Set

USDA announced recently that it will conduct a referendum April 8-19, 2024, for eligible U.S. producers of peanuts to decide whether to continue their research and promotion program. Persons who are engaged in the production and sale of peanuts at the time of the referendum and during the representative period of Jan. 1 – Dec. 31, 2022, are eligible to vote. The order will continue if it is favored by a majority of producers voting in the referendum.

USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service will conduct the referendum by regular mail, express mail and electronic ballot. AMS staff will mail ballots and voting instructions to all known eligible U.S. peanut producers before the voting period. Completed ballots returned to AMS through regular mail must be postmarked by April 19, 2024, to be counted.

Ballots delivered to AMS via express mail or electronic ballot must show proof of delivery no later than 11:59 p.m. EST April 19, 2024, to be counted. Any eligible U.S. peanut producer who does not receive a ballot by April 13, 2024, should contact referendum agent Victoria M. Carpenter, marketing specialist, at (202) 400-1865 or (202) 720-8085, or by email at VictoriaM.Carpenter@usda.gov. A notice of the referendum was published in the Federal Register Feb. 20, 2024. For more information, visit the NPB website.

APRES 56th Annual Meeting

Registration for the 56th annual meeting of the American Peanut Research and Education Society is now open. This three-day event brings together original research, Extension insights and industry updates and blends together business and social settings. Attendees engage in committees, workshops, training sessions and shared downtime, fostering opportunities for brainstorming, strategizing, education, learning and relationship building.

This year’s APRES meeting will be held at the Omni Oklahoma City, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The city is an exceptional meeting destination offering rich cultural experiences with modern amenities. From the vibrant Bricktown Entertainment District to the historic National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma City offers a unique tapestry of history, arts and outdoor activities.

For more information, visit APRESinc.com.

Record-High Export Values Achieved In 2023

The American Peanut Council recently reported that total U.S. peanut exports for 2023 reached a record-high value of $889.5 million, a 24% increase from the previous year. U.S. peanut export volumes for 2023 reached 562,927 metric tons, up 18% from 2022.

Attributed to a sharp rise in demand as the main factor behind the increase, APC said exports to Europe, excluding the United Kingdom, rose 148% by value and 117% by volume to reach $182 million and 110,756 metric tons. At the same time, Europe’s overall share of exports by value doubled year-over-year, rising from 10% in 2022 to nearly 21% in 2023, surpassing China to become the peanut industry’s third-largest export market.

“The American Peanut Council has been working diligently for many years to promote the benefits of U.S. peanuts and peanut products in Europe,” says APC senior director of international programs Peter Vlazakis. “We’re glad to see European traders recognizing availability and versatility, but we realize competition in this lucrative market remains high.” 

Mexico remained the top export destination for U.S. peanuts in 2023 with total shipments reaching a new high of $230 million and 155,532 metric tons. This represented the third consecutive year that shipments to Mexico achieved record highs. Total exports to Mexico increased 8% by value and 4% by volume as compared to the previous year.

“Peanuts play a significant role in the Mexican culture,” says Vlazakis. “From holiday celebrations to everyday street food and popular snacks, U.S. peanuts can be found throughout the country.

“On the other hand, our second-largest export market, Canada, primarily uses U.S. peanuts for peanut butter, which is hugely popular for Canadian consumers,” he says.

Canada’s 2023 shipments totaled $218 million and 128,319 metric tons.

Make Plans For USA Peanut Congress

Make plans now to attend the 28th annual USA Peanut Congress, jointly hosted by the American Peanut Council and the American Peanut Shellers Association.

This year’s event will be at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, Florida. A block of rooms is being held for conference guests at a special group rate. This year’s Congress will be June 10-13.

Take advantage of early bird registration rates available to members until May 6. Visit www.peanut-shellers.org for more information on USA Peanut Congress.

Georgia Port Of Savannah Keeps On Growing

Jamie McCurry, chief administration officer for the Georgia Ports Authority, recently spoke to members of the National Peanut Buying Points Association about their latest expansion to bolster their infrastructure capacity.

In 2023, GPA put the finishing touches on its $220 million Mason Mega Rail project, providing 24 miles of on-terminal track, he said.

Additionally, GPA board chairman Kent Fountain said, “Our goal is to ensure GPA customers have the necessary port infrastructure capacity and supply chain connectivity to support their long-term growth ambitions in world markets. This is what drives our port master plan investments.” Besides completing $1.9 billion in infrastructure improvements, GPA anticipates investing $4.2 billion in the next 10 years.

In January, GPA handled 428,000 20-foot equivalent container units, an increase of 6,300 containers, or 1.5% compared to the same month last year. Cargo moved by rail at the Port of Savannah reached 47,132 containers in January, an increase of 10,000 boxes, or 27%. Peanuts make up only 2% of the container freight loading in Savannah.

Xolair Becomes First Food Allergy Medication Approved by FDA

On Feb. 16, 2024, the Food and Drug Administration approved Xolair (omalizumab) to be used for reducing allergic reactions to multiple foods after accidental exposure.

While not a cure for food allergy, Xolair is currently the first and only FDA-approved medication to reduce the severity of IgE-mediated allergic reactions in certain adults and children ages one year or older with one or more food allergies. Xolair is a monoclonal anti-IgE antibody injection, which is a treatment made of one type of antibody that helps reduce the activity of the specific protein called IgE involved in allergic reactions. Prior to its approval for reducing food allergy reactions, Xolair was used for certain patients with moderate to severe persistent allergic asthma, chronic spontaneous urticaria and chronic rhinosinusitis.

“The National Peanut Board is proud to have supported research that improved the understanding of this treatment for peanut and other food allergies,” says NPB President and CEO Ryan Lepicier. “Since 2001, America’s peanut farmers have been committed to being part of the solution for peanut allergies. This FDA approval provides another option for food-allergic individuals and their families to improve their quality of life with less fear of life-threatening reactions.”

The efficacy of Xolair for reducing allergic reactions in food-allergic adults and children was studied in the Omalizumab as Monotherapy and as Adjunct Therapy to Multi-Allergen Oral Immunotherapy in Food Allergic Children and Adults (OUtMATCH) trial. The primary outcome of the study was for participants to be able to tolerate 600 mg of peanut protein. At the food challenge stage of the trial, 67% of the subjects who received Xolair were able to tolerate eating a 600 mg dose of peanut protein, approximately four peanuts, without moderate to severe side effects compared to placebo (7%), with decreasing effectiveness at higher doses (up to 4000 mg, or equivalence to 25 peanuts).

Patients on Xolair are still recommended to avoid foods that they are allergic to, and under guidance of an allergist may choose other treatment options for management of their allergies. This medication also is not intended for immediate emergency treatment of allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis. Xolair provides a new opportunity for individuals with food allergies to help prevent severe allergic reactions in the event of accidental exposure.

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