Baseball gets the green light, but its most famous snack is stuck in peanut purgatory

In normal times, Virginia peanuts litter the floors of baseball stadiums. The shortened season means legume leaders are pivoting.

June 25, 2020

Photo: Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

After a few swings and misses, baseball is back! But definitely not better than ever. 

Reduced to a 60-game season played in empty stadiums, the national pastime will lose a 40% chunk of its revenue.

While it might be hard to muster a tear for baseball’s billionaire bosses or its many millionaire players, let’s take a moment to recognize the real victims here — peanuts.

A rare win for the peanut-allergy posse

2.3m pounds of Virginia peanuts, the highest-quality legumes in the biz, are consumed during a regular baseball season. About one-fifth of all Virginia peanut shells end up littering the floors of baseball stadiums.

When the pandemic shut down the season, peanut farmers had already sold their crop to packing and selling companies. Ballparks canceled their usual orders, and the packers were stuck holding the shells. Because demand dried up, the stadium-destined peanuts were stuck in storage. 

The peanut gallery needs a new punchline

Legume leaders are scrambling to find alternative paths to peanut profitability. 

Sale-boosting promotions and rising retail sales — up almost 15% in May — offer some relief.

Most leftover peanuts end up as cheap peanut butter. But since the premium ballpark peanuts are so expensive to grow, packing companies see that as a last resort.

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