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Chicago Residents Worry About Peanut Butter Price Increase

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Bianca Climon buys a lot of peanut butter. She loves it. She is a one-brand kind of peanut butter woman.

But the extreme summer heat in southern states hurt this year’s peanut crop–resulting in the price inflation of peanut butter up to 40 percent, particularly in the Midwest–Climon said she has no choice but to pay the price.

“I would still buy it,” she said, standing outside the Jewel Osco on Wabash in Chicago’s South Loop. “We use it too much.”

Shelly Nutt, Texas Peanut Producers Board executive director, described the lack of rain, the poor marketing prices and the small remainder of peanuts from this year’s suffering crop production as “the perfect storm” for the hike in retail prices. The price hike has brought a single jar from just over $2, to closer to $3.

According to the Texas Peanut Producers Board, the price offered for peanuts didn’t compete with other rotational crops. Crop rotation is important to maximizing peanut production and preserving natural resources, so farmers already have the equipment to successfully grow other crops, like cotton and corn. This allows farmers to follow market demand trends, and this spring peanuts weren’t in the competitive market.

Karen May, Jewel Osco spokeswoman in Chicago, said consumers will see price increases for all peanut products across the industry. It’s news that makes Chicago consumers think twice about purchasing.

“I’d probably stop buying it altogether if the prices continued to rise,” said Leo Rebol, as he was entering the Jewel on Wabash Avenue.

On the other hand Nutt said that, despite the rise in cost, peanut butter is still “a great bang for your buck.”

“Relative to other food options, peanut butter is a relatively inexpensive source of high quality protein, and this increase only equates to approximately $0.04 per serving, which is 2 tablespoons,” Nutt said in a statement.

George Datro, a resident who buys peanut butter for his children, said he isn’t sure he’d stop buying peanut butter altogether. “But I would be more conservative with it,” he said.

According to the National Peanut Board in Georgia, peanut butter is consumed in 89 percent of American households.

When asked if there’s a possibility peanut butter will ever go back down to their original prices, Nutt said it all depends on the weather. “If it rains this winter, then peanut farmers will plant their peanuts,” she said.

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According to the Texas Peanut Producers Board, Texas peanut farmers are dedicated to providing a delicious and nutritious food source to American consumers, and hope the supply and demand will soon stabilize.

Some peanut butter lovers remain loyal to buying it, but will try other brands if they can save money.

“If there was one [brand] that was cheaper then yes, I would consider switching,” Datro said.

Elizabeth Noles and Chelsea Tomala contributed to this story.