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The price of PB&J is going up

Say it ain't so: One of the cheapest sandwiches you can make at home soon won't cost so little.

By Karen Datko Sep 26, 2011 4:57PM

Updated: Oct. 11, 2011, 11:50 a.m. ET


The cost of one of the cheapest sandwiches in the brown-bagger's repertoire is about to go up -- in a very big way.


J.M. Smucker, the owner of popular brand Jif, announced a 30% price hike for November -- just in time for National Peanut Butter Lovers Month -- and it isn't the only peanut butter maker raising prices. In addition, Smucker says it will increase the price of the "J" part of PB&J by 4%. 

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"So as consumers we're buying peanut butter for a little more than $3 a jar. We're going to be paying over $4 a jar when that price increase hits," Shelly Nutt, the exquisitely named executive director of the Texas Peanut Producers, told the Fox TV station in Lubbock, Texas.


Considering that the average child will eat 1,500 PB&Js by the time she or he graduates from high school -- a "fun fact" from the National Peanut Board (more of them below) -- and that peanut butter is eaten in 90% of U.S. households, this price increase will be very noticeable.


A couple reasons:

Some plants shriveled before they could produce peanuts, while other plants got too hot to mature into anything edible. And some of the plants that did mature developed a toxin that makes them more difficult to process.

What's a frugal sandwich-maker to do?

  • Compare the price with other low-cost sandwich ingredients. Salami and bologna sandwiches were actually cheaper than PB&J, according to Len Penzo's 2010 analysis.
  • Try the store brand. It will still be cheaper than the name brands. Len Penzo's peanut butter taste test ranked Albertsons No. 1, beating out Jif, Skippy and Peter Pan.
  • Grin and bear it. This is a temporary increase unless next season's crop is a bust. And remember that you're still saving money when you pack your lunch for school or work.

To help with the grin part, here are two more fun facts from the national peanut folks:

Peanut butter was the secret behind "Mr. Ed," TV's talking horse.
Tom Miller pushed a peanut to the top of Pike's Peak (14,100 feet) using his nose in 4 days, 23 hours, 47 minutes and 3 seconds.

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Sep 27, 2011 2:39AM

My income isn't as high as I'd like it to be. I'll be informing my employer that my salary will increase by 30%. Wink

Sep 26, 2011 9:08PM

You know folks, these are pretty simple things to make yourself at home for pennies.  I've been picking my own strawberries and making jam for years and grape jelly can be made in less than an hour w/ nothing more than some grape juice, Sure Jel and sugar.  Peanut butter is even easier - get some raw peanuts and throw them in the blender w/ a dash of honey and you'll have the best sandwich you ever had in your life.  Keep the peanut butter in the fridge, will spoil if you leave it out as the oils go rancid after a while...but it won't last that long, I bet!  We can beat them at their own game if we're just smart enough to learn to do this stuff for ourselves.  Pioneers did it, so can we.  :-)

Sep 26, 2011 11:13PM
The price will go up for legitimate reasons, but will never come down. Rake in the cash, they will. Just like when gas prices went up, so did food. Then when gas went down, the food stayed up. Drought? Food prices go up. Good rain? Price stays up.
Sep 26, 2011 10:32PM

Take from the old - take peanut butter & jelly from the young - take away raises for workers. The USA treats their citizen like crapola. It time to revolt and kick washington where it hurts the most - in their wallet. Take away their perks. They can't come with money for fema, but they come up with money to rebuild Iraq and Afganiststan.

Sep 26, 2011 6:02PM
I doubt if this is a temporay price increase, food staples have seen big price increases here. Lettuce is twice as much as it was last summer, so are potatoes, Bacon is up about 30% in the last 3 months.
Sep 27, 2011 1:54AM

I have four kids to make sandwiches for every morning.. I use a lot of peanut butter, and I have noticed that the price of peanut butter is already over four dollars here.. and that is not for the big jar. I understand that crops are lacking, but seriously, people are trying to survive in a really bad economy right now, and everyone wants to jack up prices on EVERYTHING!! Give me a break. I refuse to pay five dollars for peanut butter. Especially when I use almost an entire jar in a week.

I get supply and demand, but 30%, really??? That is just plain insane.

Sep 26, 2011 6:51PM
Coming from a farm girl, the past dry season hasn't helped grow many peanuts this year and I'm talking barely any. The reason the price is going up is because the amount of product is fewer and the demand for it will rise. It is not greed because the peanuts didn't grow, it's just the way the world works. Without a good rain season for the last 5-6 months, there is not enough water in the wells that we can use to put on the crops. Let me ask you this... Would you rather go without water or peanut butter??
Sep 26, 2011 8:54PM
The lack of basic reading comprehension and economic knowledge truly scares me.  A large part of the peanut crops failed to produce anything this year, so that means less peanuts to make peanut butter. Less peanut butter means that the demand goes up which then makes the price rise. This is not that hard to understand. It has nothing to do with corporations, greed or anything political at all. It is just plain simple economics.
Sep 27, 2011 10:23AM
Give me a break.  Peanut butter prices have already gone sky high - not to mention the size of the jars have gone SMALLER.  People that write these stories have not been grocery shopping recently!
Sep 27, 2011 1:16AM
Why Not?  Everything else is going up!  Except for what most of us "Bring In" that is!Eye-rolling
Sep 26, 2011 9:59PM
I quit buying Smucker products a long time ago, they are very overpriced!!  The Kroger brand is good and a lot cheaper!!
Sep 26, 2011 7:12PM

Less product from the same cost causes prices to go up, not sure what business most of you are in but low yeild means higher prices in most products.

Sep 27, 2011 10:21AM
This is a no brainer.  When I find a product with an unjustified increase or a huge increase due to an exaggerated excuse, I just don't buy it.  Let that product sit on the shelves for a while...the price will come down.  You know,  I'm tired of every company raising their prices during a bad recession just because everyone else is doing it.  I guess after these past 2 or 3 years of a poor economy the companies are tired of not making much money so they are all just gonna screw the public with high price increases and cutting the portions. 
Sep 26, 2011 8:34PM
i don't know where they got thier info. from but it wasn't the grocery stores. jiff has been over $4 a jar for more than a year. now they are going to raise it again.they just figured out they had something to lay the blame on thats all.can raise it another dollar and hopefully no one will notice. just like the rest of the companies did when they raised prices and lowered quanity amounts in the package.
Sep 27, 2011 1:25AM
It's high time we started hitting all these manufacturers where it counts, THEIR bottom line, I can hardly afford to buy groceries anymore, I smoke and they keep going up, I am about to quit them in protest and for the obvious health reason's, if groceries keep going up, I will continue to buy the cheaper brands, gas goes up, I'll use less. It's real simple, I have learned to make do with less, I learned to live on about 45 dollars a week in groceries, that same amount of food, etc is now well over 50 dollars, I buy what I must have, nothing else, no more soda, etc...
Sep 26, 2011 5:48PM
you can count on me not being a buyer of your product...greed!
Sep 26, 2011 10:14PM
looking at some of the posters blaming the corporations for an increase in the cost of peanut butter is scary. The class warfare is working overtime and the little ignorant ones can't seem to understand that a crop comes from the ground and needs rain to grow. They don't understand  how food gets on the shelves of the supermarket and, sadly, they vote.
Sep 27, 2011 9:24AM
Has anyone seen the ingredients in peanut butter? Roasted peanuts and sugar, molasses, "fully" hydrogenated vegetable oil (rapeseed and soybean), mono-and diglycerides, salt!

Where the $%#@&* is the peanut oil? Does anyone read the ingredients of this stuff?  And by the way...anyone paying attention to the reduction in volume of 25% in most products as the prices go higher and higher. We all need to stop buying from these greed bags, we are not victims, we choose. These companies want more and more money and give us less, less, less and expect we will sit in silence and the FDA cares less what we are eating too. C'mon people!
Sep 27, 2011 12:20AM
Emile, your so right! No rain- small crop-30% increase in cost to consumer. Thats the way it works, as you say. Lots of rain-big crop-2% increase to consumers. You did'nt mention that these farmers have drout insurance to make up for their loss's. Sorry farm girl----its just plain greed and nothing else. Now eat your PB&J sandwitch and get to bed!!!!
Sep 27, 2011 2:58AM
when i was a kid 45 yrs ago we made strawberry jam,blackberry jam and pickles.we bought milk straight from the farm and made our own butter.peanut butter is easy to make.we dont to buy when you can grow what you is time to boycott some of greedy giants.see how fast they change their tune.
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