No Baseball Has Led to an Excess of Peanuts with Nowhere to Go—and Peanut Producers are Struggling
No word yet on Cracker Jacks.
2020 hasn’t been a great year for baseball fans. Covid-19 significantly pushed back the start of the MLB season, with owners and players spending months debating how to safely take the field. Even once the season does restart, asking someone to take you out to a ballgame is a pretty bad (and impossible) idea in the current climate.
As you’d imagine, the absence of baseball has been bad news for at least one of the snacks mentioned in “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” According to The New York Times, there’s a glut of peanuts with nowhere to go and not much that can be done about it.
The kind of shelled peanuts you’d encounter at a ballpark are apparently called Virginia peanuts, and they’re noted for both their size and appearance. Roughly 20 percent of the annual Virginia peanut crop is sold to concession stands around the country, which is bad news if none of them are open.
Given that the harvest takes place in October and orders for baseball season are rolling out well before spring training is over, the timing of the pandemic put producers in a tough spot. That’s led peanuts to pile up in warehouses with no clear plan about what to do with them. While National Peanut Board CEO Bob Parker told the Times that peanuts can be refrigerated for a bit, that unconventional approach isn’t a long-term solution. So far, the options they’re exploring include unconventional promotional efforts like selling team-branded peanuts in grocery stores to make you at least feel like you’re at the ballpark.
This is far from the only instance where the pandemic has disrupted the relationship between supply and demand for a particular food. We’ve also seen surpluses of milk, potatoes, and other items that simply had nowhere to go once their wholesale market dried up.
As any baseball in 2020 will be played to empty stadiums, the peanut problem will persist until at least 2021. I imagine anyone involved in the production of Virginia peanuts very much does care if those fans ever get back. If you happen to see more peanuts than usual at your local Five Guys in the months ahead, well, there’s your explanation.