Local peanut butter lovers may want to stock up, after producers began hiking prices on the spreadable concoction this week.
The J.M. Smucker Co. recently announced plans to increase its wholesale prices for Jif peanut butter by 30 percent this month and Kraft Foods Co. raised prices on Planters peanut butter 40 percent on Monday, according to the Associated Press.
Other peanut butter producers may soon follow suit.
"It's a classic case of supply and demand," said Nate Filler, president and CEO of the Ohio Grocers Association in Columbus.
"We had drought conditions in the south that affected the peanut crop this summer but peanuts also lost footing to cotton, which brought higher prices," he said. "So many farmers chose to grow cotton instead of peanuts."
Filler said consumers could see a 40 percent- or up to $1 a jar- increase in the price of peanut butter.
Peanut butter history
The United States saw its public introduction of peanut butter into mainstream society in 1904, at the St. Louis World Fair. C.H. Sumner sold the peanut butter at a concession stand at the fair and made more than $700 in sales.
In 1908, Krema Products Company in Columbus, Ohio, started to sell peanut butter. This company is the oldest of the peanut butter producers still in business today. At that time, the peanut butter was only sold in Ohio, since the company's founder Benton Black wanted it this way.
"But the good news is these things tend to run in cycles, so prices will probably go back to normal after a while," he said. "Right now people should really be on the lookout for manufacturers' coupons that will be coming to help soften the blow for peanut butter customers.
"I have three kids, so peanut butter is a real staple at our house," he added. "And ounce for ounce, it's still a very inexpensive source of protein."
Mike Morrison, manager of Warren's IGA on Muskingum Drive in Marietta, said the prices are definitely climbing.
"It will be pretty significant, up to 70 or 80 cents per jar," he said. "We were fortunate and bought an order for a sale just before the price increased. The sale price was $1.99 for an 18-ounce jar and we sold out.
"When we replenish the stock we won't get that price again," Morrison added. "I've been in this business for 30 years and I've never seen peanut prices go this far."
Belpre resident Peggy Neill said her family uses a lot of peanut butter and a price increase won't have much of an effect on that.
"Our kids loved chicken noodle soup and peanut butter sandwiches," she said. "And my husband and I, when we want a snack, spread peanut butter on toast."
Joan Hampton, of Marietta, is also a peanut butter fan.
"We definitely love peanut butter," she said. "I'll have a couple of sandwiches a week. We're being encouraged to eat more vegetables and peanut butter is a good source of protein."
Hampton noted the increased price would have an impact on lower income families.
"But on the other hand, the peanut farmers are hurting because the crop wasn't good this year," she said.
Peanut butter isn't the only food that will cost more. Hampton said a recent Wall Street Journal article mentioned beef and pork prices are also on the rise.
"Still, when you compare how many ham sandwiches you can make, compared to peanut butter sandwiches for the same amount of money, the peanut butter is still a good bargain, especially when you have a growing family," she said.
At least one area grocery store didn't seem to be too fazed by the peanut butter price hikes.
"We're not seeing any increase from our supplier right now and he hasn't given us any target date for an increase," said Dave Worst, manager of the Foodland on Plum Street in Parkersburg.
"But I have seen some older people buying extra peanut butter in twin packs this week," he said.
Worst said the store ordered stock for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays in the spring of this year, which locked in the prices for those products and those savings can be passed on to the customers.
"It's tough for people now and we want to help them out," he said.