When COVID-19 hit the peanut industry, it took a while to understand the pandemic and the impact it had on all segments.  When the economy shutdown and families were forced to stay sheltered at home, the peanut industry sensed that an empty supermarket shelf sent the wrong message and early on, there was a run on peanut butter and peanut snacks.

     Peanut shellers had to find a way to keep shelling and keep trucks rolling to manufacturers.  Immediately, safety rules and regs were implemented to allow employees to feel safe and shell peanuts for processors.  Shellers had some quality problems with loads that did not meet standards on aflatoxin, but blanching and blending met the regs and peanuts kept rolling.

     Manufacturers were working hard to ensure the health and safety of employees while continuing to maintain production and shipments to food outlets.

     With customers wanting more, one manufacturer decided to run only creamy peanut butter just to fill the shelves.  Several struggled with getting peanuts and oped to not bid on USDA request for peanut butter.

     The ultimate comfort food saw the ‘family at home’ experimenting with new uses of peanut butter using recipes.  Even food banks were trying to get more supplies.  The peanut market was booming.

     Club stores were up 25%.  Peanut butter sales were expected to have a slight decrease when schools open but home delivery has increased.  NO signs of slowing down either, as one processors noted that peanuts make a great platform or vehicle for new products or flavors.

 

PEANUT PRICES & LOAN

     As shellers tried to clean up the 2019 peanut crop, due to aflatoxin, supplies became tight, especially high specifications.  Shelled prices jumped from $.45 per lb. for jumbo runners to $.80 per lb.  Blanched peanuts were as high as $.85-$.90 per lb.  Farmers had already contracted the farmer stock peanuts at $400-$425 per ton on runners and $500 per ton on Virginias. Clean-up costs were expensive for the sheller and the farmer just felt left out. On the present crop, farmer stock contracts have increased to a firm $450 per ton at most locations.

    As far as prices for SE runner peanuts, prices have firmed from low 50's to high 40's for negative afla material to low to mid 50's with some shellers completely withdrawn from the market altogether until harvest is complete. 

    In-shell Virginia peanuts remain extremely scarce and difficult to get offers (same with most all Southwest types and grades).  China continues to show interest in US farmer stock at higher prices and it will be worth watching to see if that lingers beyond the New Year. 

    The government loan program was being redeemed fast.  The PLC price charts for last year’s low prices had farmers planning on the approximately $100 per ton assistance in October on 85% of the farm base.

2020 PRODUCTION ESTIMATE

     Production is forecast at 6.64 billion pounds (3,321,660 tons), down 1 percent from the previous forecast but up 22 percent from the revised 2019 total of 5.47 billion pounds. Harvested area is expected to total 1.62 million acres, unchanged from the previous forecast but up 17 percent from 2019. Based on conditions as of November 1, the average yield for the United States is forecast at 4,093 pounds per acre, down 32 pounds per acre from the previous forecast but up 159 pounds per acre from 2019. Record high production is forecasted in Georgia. Record high yield is forecasted in Mississippi.             

     Disappearance for Domestic food is 1,644,000 tons, up 2.4%.  This past year showed an increase of 3.3% after a major candy usage correction.  Exports are estimated to remain the same as past year, about 800,000 tons.  Recent 12 month shipments were up 41% over the previous year to 663,000 MT.

    The ending stocks or carry forward is now up to 1,131,000 tons.  That will likely keep farmer stock contracts low for next season.  The peanut program balance is a positive…estimates show peanut supply is 6,793 million pounds and the disappearance is 6,764 million pounds.

    Now that potential for a good crop seems likely with little or no aflatoxin, the market has relaxed and segments are trying to get back to ‘normal.”  It is worth noting that the US has very little carry-out from 2019 crop and needs to begin shelling the better quality 2020 crop as soon as possible, much of which will be used to service 2019 crop contracts.

COVID-19

     The impacts of COVID-19 are expected to continue into next year.  One study says farm income to fall by $21.9 billion in 2021 compared to their forecast prior to COVID-19, even when accounting for higher payments from farm bill programs.  Having a nutritious, reasonably priced, family loved product has caused peanuts to prosper during the pandemic and that trend should continue.

    Congress is considering additional assistance to help agricultural producers adjust to disruptions in domestic and global agricultural markets. Earlier this month, USDA announced the second round of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP 2), which will provide additional assistance of up to $14 billion to farmers facing market disruptions. CFAP 1 was of no value to peanuts since the price has not dropped 15% to qualify.   Peanuts are included in CFAP2 – estimated at $15 per 2020 acre.

EDITORIAL - It seems as though the market never believed there was a 3.32 mm ton US crop to be gathered.  Buyer's however have good coverage on for most of 2021 and seem content to wait it out and see where the final tally stands.  WE believe the crop is 3.1-3.2 mm FST tops.  Early indications are that it is of excellent quality in the Southeast, especially in regards to aflatoxin.  This is welcomed news to the industry coming off the '19 crop.

     Lack of maturity seems to be plaguing the Southwest and V/C crops.  Harvest delays in all three growing areas continue to be an issue and more wet weather is on the way to the SE.

     According to GAFSIS 2.24 mm tons have been inspected to date as of yesterday (Nov. 9th) so there is an obviously a long way to go with harvest if indeed today's report is accurate .

LEADING MARKETING INDICATORS (As of November 11, 2020)

2020 Est. Peanut Acreage (+17%)              1,623,000 acres

2020 Est. Peanut Production (+24%) 3,321,660,000 tons

2020 Est. Yield per ACRE                                     4,093 lb/ac

2019 Market Loan 11-11-2020                       2,341,062 tons

2019 Remaining in Loan (11-11-20)               36,359 tons

2019-20 Domestic Usage (12 Mo.)                    UP + 3.3 %

2019-20 Exports (Aug – Jul)  12 Mo.                 UP + 41.2%

Posted Price (11-11-20) Runners -$424.55 ton, Spanish - $415.57 ton. Valencia and Virginias - $428.74