Peanuts are a favorite snack of consumers, thanks to their affordability compared to gourmet nuts. To drive even more sales, retail managers can take advantage of their popularity by promoting the wide range of peanut uses.
“There has been a shift in eating habits to more plant-based diets,” says Ashley Collins, chief executive officer, North Carolina Peanut Growers Association in Nashville, NC. “Peanuts are a great fit for those seeking this form of diet.”
“Peanuts naturally contain 7 grams of protein per serving,” adds Lauren Highfill Williams, director of communications, National Peanut Board, Atlanta, GA. “That’s more protein than any other nut.”
Eric Boonshaft, director of marketing, Hampton Farms, Severn, NC, agrees. “Retailers should call out some of the attributes and health benefits of both in-shell and shelled peanuts, including their high protein content.”
SPICE UP YOUR SALES
New flavorings currently being offered in peanut selections can also push peanut sales. “Salted and honey roast are the two primary flavors for snack nuts, but they’re not the only flavors gaining in popularity. Salt and pepper, and heat are also popular examples,” says Don Koehler, executive director of the Georgia Peanut Commission in Tifton, GA.
“Younger demographics are more interested in and more likely to try globally inspired flavors,” says Williams. “Global recipes paired with peanuts, such as Mexican salsa macha, Filipino kare-kare peanut sauce, Asian peanut ginger flavors and West African peanut potato chips, are examples of new trends coming to market. Adding peanuts can make less familiar foods feel more approachable.”
However, flavoring can also be regional. An example of this is Old Bay flavoring, which is popular in Virginia.
Boonshaft says salted and unsalted are the top flavors of Hampton Farms’ in-shell peanuts, followed by Cajun Hot Nuts flavor. “We’ve also launched a number of limited edition in-shell flavors, such as Smoky Barbeque, Hatch Chile and upcoming Spicy Dill Pickle that will be released in spring, to bring news and excitement to the category.”
EFFECTS OF INFLATION
The affordability of peanuts compared to other nuts makes them an attractive purchase for consumers.
“Inflation/recession are always a concern, but peanut products, such as salted peanuts and peanut butter, are stable and relatively inelastic compared to nonstable items,” says Koehler of the Georgia Peanut Commission.
Williams agrees. “The costs of peanuts and peanut butter have remained relatively stable over the past year, making them an inexpensive, shelf staple and a delicious source of protein.”
“In-shell peanuts are one of the best values, not just in the snack nut category, but in the store in general. They are one of the most affordable sources of plant-based protein you can find,” says Boonshaft.
PEANUTS IN THE RETAIL STORE
Low cost and versatility are areas retail managers should push to consumers. One benefit is that peanuts sell well as an affordable snack year-round. According to Williams, peanut consumption has reached record high levels, with per capita consumption in 2023 of 7.7 pounds. Placement in the produce department, seasonal campaigns, and recipe signage are all ways that retail managers can promote peanut sales.
“Visibility is key, especially for in-shell peanuts, which check the box on many current trends: plant-based protein, minimally processed, low sugar, and a healthy snack for a healthy lifestyle,” says Boonshaft. “We utilize a variety of display vehicles, including display-ready cases, dump bins and hutches to drive impulse purchases.”
Creating consumer awareness of peanuts as a versatile ingredient can also increase sales.
“Many consumers do not realize the variety of ways you can use peanuts beyond a snack or peanut butter. Both peanuts and peanut butter are used in many dishes all over the world,” says Collins.
Retailers can move peanuts by helping consumers to be aware of their versatility through recipe cards placed next to peanuts in the produce department and on nut aisles.”
Seasonal packaging can also be beneficial to peanut sales. While peanuts sell well year-round, baseball season, spring and summer months, and the Super Bowl do enjoy an uptick in sales.
“There is a type of peanut called Valencia that has a sweeter taste than the rest of the peanut family. This makes them suitable for all-natural peanut butters, which is a growing trend as consumers become more health-conscious,” says Collins of North Carolina Peanut Growers Association.
“Many consumers are looking for convenience in their meal planning. We have a few retailers in North Carolina who have started offering both in-shell and gourmet flavored peanuts in pouch snack-sizes or serving size offerings,” adds Collins.
Proteins rather than carbs continue to be popular choices among health- and weight-conscious consumers. As a result, peanut products are starting to emphasize and promote their protein content.
“Peanuts are just a great snack for a healthy lifestyle,” says Boonshaft.