Peanut Butter Prices Skyrocketing

If your kids (or you) subsist largely on the American staple of peanut butter, brace yourselves for some bad news.

Due to a poorer than expected crop this year, peanut butter prices are set to explode in coming months, with little relief in sight for a year or so, until next year’s crop is assessed. Peanut butter is well-loved by the picky and financially strapped alike for not only its versatility, but its relative low price and strong nutritional profile. And while the sticky stuff will still be a bargain, its not going to be nearly as cheap as peanut butter prices rise relative to peanut prices.

And peanut prices are up a lot, too. While just a year ago, a ton of runner peanuts went for $450, this year the same ton costs $1,200. USDA projections have American peanut production at 3.6 billion pounds in 2011, down 13% over 2010. According to analysts, drought and intense heat in the South were factors in the rise in peanut butter prices, as well as high prices for competing crops enticing farmers to plant other things.

If you’re watching peanut butter prices, you may already have noticed the sharp increases going into effect:

Consumers, meanwhile, are already seeing these increases reflected at grocery stores… Maria Brous, a spokeswoman for the Publix chain, said the store had already made slight increases in retail prices and expects them to go higher “as the cost of goods continue [s] to rise.”

Kraft’s peanut butters will go up a staggering 20%, while Jif will be up 30% and Peter Pan will climb 20% in price. Have you already noticed higher than expected peanut butter prices?