When people across the U.S. began stockpiling groceries in March as stay-at-home orders went into effect, many consumers turned to familiar comfort foods like peanuts and peanut butter to stock their pantries. Independent data analyzed by NPB show a sizeable uptick in both peanut snack nut and peanut butter sales. March peanut butter sales were up 75% over 2019. And March peanut snack nut sales were up 24% over 2019. April proved another strong month for peanut butter with sales up 19.5% over 2019.
Many peanut butter manufacturers reported a huge uptick in peanut butter sales in March. J.M. Smucker reported seeing unprecedented demand for peanut butter. The company quickly implemented changes to manage supply by shifting their focus to products with the highest demand like JIF creamy peanut butter. They also see consumers shifting back to legacy brands like JIF.
A national specialty peanut butter brand says limited choices in some categories has led some consumers to try new brands, flavors and packaging formats. Someone who usually buys jarred peanut butter might try squeeze packs. Or someone who usually buys a mainstream brand might try a natural or specialty brand. Or someone who only buys crunchy might try a flavored peanut butter.
“The trends we’re seeing are that consumers are turning to foods that are easy to prepare and serve, have long shelf lives, are affordable and provide a feeling of comfort, familiarity and safety. Peanut butter delivers on all of these,” one brand owner tells NPB.
Another big trend several peanut butter brands report seeing is the overall increase of e-commerce. One national specialty brand says Amazon volume is staggering. And another brand struggled to keep up with demand generated by Amazon sales in March.
For peanut snack nuts perhaps salt and comfort helped drive sales. In the latest edition of the Frito-Lay U.S. Snack Index survey, released just before Memorial Day weekend, the company said that salty snacks have been the number one food item that's contributed to sales growth at retailers since early March when shoppers were shifting their purchasing priorities.
The survey also notes that during the most recent stages of the crisis, shoppers have not been shy about trying out new snacks. According to the survey, “many consumers are still trying new snacks (with 92 percent saying they plan to continue to eat them once the pandemic is over) and about one-fifth of respondents are developing new rituals around food.”
Frito-Lay, whose portfolio includes peanut snack nuts and in-shell peanuts, predicts that summer gatherings will evolve, but snacks will still be welcome guests. “The Frito-Lay Snack Index found 85% of respondents say eating their favorite snack makes them feel normal,” the brand said. “While the overwhelming majority (83%) said their favorite summer snacks remind them of good times and nearly half (48%) said eating their favorite snack makes them feel happy.”