Part of the reason that the "end" of the recession has not been felt by the average American is that the price of food and oil-based products keep rising while salaries have not. And it is going to got worse before it gets better. The price of that lunchtime staple peanut butter is about to skyrocket roughly 30 percent. To deal with the problem, some brands are going so far as to temporarily discontinue some of their lines! Fans of Reduced-Fat Creamy Jif, hope you are well stocked.
The problem with peanuts is twofold. First, a number of farmers this year devoted more fields to pricier crops like cotton than to peanuts. Add that to the fact that big peanut areas like Texas saw seriously dry summers (leading to dramatically smaller peanut crops) and you've got yourself a problem. The price of a ton of peanuts has gone from $450 a year ago to $1,150 this year. And the extra cost is being passed on to the consumer:
Wholesale prices for big-selling Jif are going up 30% starting in November, while Peter Pan will raise prices as much as 24% in a couple weeks. Unilever wouldn't comment on its pricing plans, but a spokesman for Wegmans Food Markets, the closely held supermarket chain in the Northeast U.S., said wholesale prices for all brands it carries, including Skippy, are 30% to 35% higher than a year ago.
Further, to assure they'll have enough peanut butter going forward, some companies are taking precautions. Smucker, for instance, has temporarily stopped making eight varieties in certain sizes. So, for instance, don't expect to see any more 40-ounce jars or reduced-fat creamy Jif until January (at the earliest).
And to think, just earlier this year a visit to the "Peanut Butter Museum" would have scored you a free jar of the gooey stuff. Those were days!