Pricey peanut butter; expect to shell out 24-40% more - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Pricey peanut butter; expect to shell out 24-40% more bread for spread

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CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)-- What would a brown-bag lunch be without PB&J?

Kindergarten student Will Harwood prefers his sandwiches be a couple of cuts above.

"Peanut butter and honey," he says with certainty. "No crusts."

His mom, Kate, may feel as if he's in the Upper Crust, after checking peanut butter prices this Halloween. A 40oz. jar of J.I.F. goes for $7.25 at the Signal Mountain Bi-Lo.

Several makers, including Kraft Foods and Procter & Gamble, have announced further price increases ranging from 24-40 percent.

"Oh my goodness," she says. "I don't pay that much attention; we just get it and eat it."

"Did peanuts get more expensive," fellow shopper Veronica Nowaday asks.

The wholesale price has risen to $1,200 per ton, compared to $450 per ton last year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Drought damage in Georgia, Alabama and Texas has resulted in the smallest peanut crop in five years.

That hits especially hard for the Chattanooga Area Food Bank.

"It's very critical," spokesperson Claire Sawyer tells Eyewitness News. "We try to put protein in every food box, plus the agencies like to get it for their programs as well."

The Food Bank serves 380 agencies in 20 surrounding counties. Last year, it shelled out $22,000 to buy 39,000 pounds of peanut butter. The USDA bought 17,000 pounds more, Sawyer says.

"We're hoping the food drives will make it up," Sawyer says. "If you're collecting at your business, your church, (WRCB-TV's) 'Share Your Christmas', be sure you bring some peanut butter."

Signal Mountain's Dick Dillender would like to tell you he saw this coming.

"We bought four or five jars about two months ago." he says. "But that's more about buying in bulk; it's just easier."

Will Harwood pauses a bit when he's asked whether the extra costs are worth it.

"Well, I like peanut butter," he says.

Mom is grateful that his 11-month-old sister, Abby, and his 3-year-old brother, Nick, haven't developed a taste for it yet.

Odds are, they will; the USDA reports that peanut butter is in 90 percent of American pantries, and that the average boy or girl will have eaten 1500 peanut butter sandwiches by the time he or she graduates high school.

Maurice Goode figures they must be talking about his family.

"I don't eat peanut butter, but I have four teenagers," he says. "And they're all bigger than me."

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