Consumer Research Highlights America’s Love of Peanuts and Peanut Butter

A man sitting at a table with a laptop and a plate of food.Sep 1, 2023

By Ryan Lepicier, the National Peanut Board Senior Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer

The National Peanut Board (NPB) regularly reviews the attitudes, perceptions and consumer habits of peanut consumption, motivations for snack food selection, nut preference, and peanut and peanut butter associations. The most recent study, conducted by the Bantam Group in November 2021, shows peanut and peanut butter consumption are on the rise.

This is especially true among millennials, who report eating peanuts/peanut butter more frequently than the general market and significantly more frequently compared to 2015. The same is true for alternative types of peanut butter like all-natural and organic.

Top snack food selection criteria for both the general market and millennials are taste, hunger satiation and affordability. However, millennials are more likely to agree that a snack that is easy to eat on the go is a top snack food selection criterion. The top reasons for this include:

  • Peanuts continue to be highly rated for their taste, being easy-to-eat on-the-go, convenience and affordability. Peanut butter has a more favorable view among the general market and is highly rated for its taste, affordability and as a convenient snack/meal among the general market and millennials.
  • From a nutritional standpoint, both peanuts and peanut butter continue to be viewed as a good natural food, a source of protein, part of a well-balanced diet and a good source of nutrients.
  • Peanuts and peanut butter are also believed to be delicious and fun to eat; peanuts have a stronger association with fitting one’s lifestyle; peanut butter is associated with making people feel good when they eat it.
  • Among those surveyed, 80% of adults 18+ have purchased or consumed peanuts, peanut butter or a peanut product in the prior month.

In the households consuming peanuts and/or peanut butter:

  • Peanut butter and peanuts continued to lead the way as the most consumed nut/nut products among general market and millennial respondents (with millennials indexing higher for eating peanut candy, peanut oil and peanut powder).
  • The largest increases in consumption habits were among peanut candy, peanut oil and peanut powder.
  • Everyday consumption of peanut and peanut products is highest among millennial respondents. In fact, a larger percentage of millennials report consuming all nut products more frequently than the older age bands.

Respondents are consuming peanuts and peanut butter differently than three years ago. Millennials are moving away from traditional consumption methods (from the can/jar, in candy, as part of trail mix) towards more non-traditional consumption methods such as an ingredient in a main dish, smoothies/shakes and homemade peanut butter.

Among those who eat peanut butter, creamy is the preferred type.

Much like peanuts, peanut butter consumption is changing. While the top way to eat peanut butter continues to be on a sandwich or with jelly, the following traditional consumption methods are trending down:

  • On crackers
  • On a muffin, bagel or toast
  • With fruits or vegetables
  • In candy/candy bars

The market continues to be consistent in its viewpoint of peanuts and peanut butter, with respondents rating peanuts and peanut butter favorably for being delicious, fun to eat, being a good fit for lifestyle, for making them feel good when they eat peanuts and as America’s favorite nut/nut butter.

About the Study

The 2021 online study was conducted at random, nationwide and matched to the census for age, gender, income and race. Consumers ages 18+ who’d eaten peanuts, peanut butter and/or peanut products at least once in the past month OR purchased any of those items in the past month for someone in their household were able to respond. Responses received were compared to a similar 2018 study conducted by NPB and the Bantam Group for benchmark purposes.

This article was originally published in PQ 45

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