From the Start
From our beginning in 2000, we have sought to be a catalyst in the marketplace to increase consumer demand and consumption of USA-grown peanuts. We also strive to help growers lower production costs and continue to put the world’s highest quality peanut product on the tables of people around the globe.
Now more than a decade later, peanut and peanut butter sales figures are at an all-time high. You tell us peanuts are your “preferred nut” when you reach for a product to add to your favorite recipes. Farmers continue to increase yields and reduce costs using the latest industry research findings. Today we find our reach is greater than ever.
During the 1990s, peanuts were losing ground in the marketplace to other snack products. Peanut farmers, manufacturers and retailers took a back seat and watched while the snack category exploded with sales. The sales of peanuts were in rapid decline.
Across the “Peanut Belt,” many farmers decided they had had enough. Something had to be done to halt the decline in peanut consumption. Farmers and state grower group representatives gathered from across the country.
The challenge for American peanut producers was to build demand to make production a more worthwhile investment; something they needed to do nationally and as one voice. A concerted resolve to increase demand, create a receptive market for peanut products and find ways to decrease production costs would ensure sustainability in farming over the long haul.
As you can imagine, there were discussions and disagreements. Compromises were made along the way. Soon, though, an agreement was fashioned that would create a national group of America’s peanut farmers dedicated to increasing demand through marketing and promotions, to create a market for peanut products which are definitively the best in the world, and to make peanut production a sound investment through lower input costs.
That’s how the National Peanut Board was born.
Each of the 10 major peanut-producing states has a peanut grower Board member and an alternate representative. One at-large Board member also represents all minor peanut-producing states. Today, the National Peanut Board (NPB) defines itself as a farmer-funded national research, promotion and education check-off program.
The Board had a vision to unify in a shared cause of celebrating peanuts as a commodity, not merely rooting for one brand over the other. Along the way, the National Peanut Board partnered with state organizations and other industry groups to develop a strong and united effort that, in the end, is a win-win situation for the entire peanut industry.
We represent all USA peanut farmers and their families. Through research and marketing initiatives, the Board is finding new ways to enhance production and increase consumer demand by promoting the great taste, nutrition and culinary versatility of USA-grown peanuts.
Oh, the Places We Went
Soon a well-coordinated advertising, promotions and public relations campaign was in place triggering more consumption in traditional and non-traditional ways. NPB made inroads everywhere; on billboards and transits, in magazines, newspapers and on the Internet, to name a few. Year after year, messages have been in-step with consumer trends. From the low-cholesterol craze to an interest in nutrient-dense snacks and protein, peanuts continue to be a sure fit.
We began working with celebrity chefs to get consumers thinking about peanuts in new and different ways. Not only did we start to see more peanuts being included in creative ways on menus, but chefs began promoting these dishes via TV and Internet outlets, adding to an increased awareness of peanut products. Also, several national food chains, such as Starbucks, Dairy Queen and T.G.I.Fridays incorporated more peanuts and peanut butter on their menus. We partnered with nationally-known peanut butter manufacturers and top retailers to promote peanuts and peanut butter everywhere. Connections with dietitian networks and the medical community fueled talk about the nutritional benefits of peanuts.
A Measure of Success
The first measurement of the Board’s success came in 2004. The National Center for Peanut Competitiveness issued a report which measured the impact of National Peanut Board programs on the marketplace. The report showed consumer purchases of peanut butter were up 9.7 percent since 2000. Peanuts used in snack products were up 14.3 percent over the average of the past four years.
The next year, data collected from supermarket scans (Information Resources, Inc., IRI) showed an enormous jump in the consumption of snack peanuts and peanut butter. Snack peanut sales climbed to 78.2 percent and peanut butter usage was up 12.8 percent. “These strong numbers were seen since the launch and continuance of the NPB marketing and promotions program nationally,” said Dr. Stanley Fletcher, agricultural economist for the University of Georgia.
Looking back over the National Peanut Board’s 13 years, it’s evident the needs have been fulfilled; from seeing a 22 percent increase in peanut mentions on the menus of America’s top 500 restaurant chains to maintain peanuts’ position as the “nut of choice” for Americans.
We cannot begin to count the new peanut products or brand additions that have been introduced since the Board was sworn in more than 10 years ago. And, to date NPB has helped fund more than $20 million in production research. Since 2001, the Board has allocated nearly $10 million in food allergy research, outreach and education, with promising solutions on the horizon for several research programs.
We expect the next decade to be as productive and exciting as the first, as we build on our initial successes and gain even more ground for USA-grown peanuts.