Nothing says baseball season like peanuts.
But with this year’s fanless Major League Baseball season, the peanuts that were bagged and ready for stadiums across the country couldn’t be enjoyed by America’s baseball fans.
Faced with the challenge brought on by the pandemic, the National Peanut Board (NPB), who represents America’s 7,000 peanut-farming families, was urged to find new ways to engage with peanut consumers.
Ryan Lepicier, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for the NPB, said the board responded to the challenge by releasing a social media campaign and commercial that aims to highlight the emotional connection between baseball and peanuts.
The commercial states, “If you can’t get to the ballpark, we’ll bring the ballpark to you. Because no matter where you are, nothing brings baseball home like peanuts.”
In addition to releasing the commercial, which will air on selected nationally broadcast games on FOX and broadcast and streaming games on FS1 networks, the peanut board released a social media campaign designed to send out bags of peanuts for people to enjoy. On the first day, Lepicier said the peanut board sent out over 5,000 bags of in-shell, or Virginia variety, peanuts.
Although producers have already been paid for their crop this year, Lepicier said premium peanut producers rely on baseball season for demand because they cannot be repurposed for other uses.
“Re-purposing those peanuts for another use like peanut butter just really isn’t practical,” he said. “It would be like taking filet mignon and grinding it up to be hamburger.”
Listen to the full story with Ryan Lepicier here:
However, Lepicier said peanut butter, which is made using runner or spanish varieties of peanuts, saw a 75% year-over-year growth in sales in March as families were stockpiling to quarantine. He also said from March to July, peanut butter sales across all brands were up 19% – a statistic that typically looks for a 1%-2% increase.
“So we think that people are really turning to peanut butter as an affordable, easy-to-store, and easy-to-use food during these times of uncertainty,” he said.
Lepicier said that growth is good news for peanut growers, especially as food banks are seeking more peanut butter than ever before.
“Consumers can take comfort knowing that peanuts connect to our lives in a very emotional way as a childhood food. Peanut butter makes us feel good, and same with baseball peanuts.”
So whether it’s shell peanuts at a baseball game or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich at home, the peanut board said consumers can rest assured that America’s peanut farmers are doing what they can to hit a home run for peanut fans.