The History Of The American Peanut Industry | Growth and Uses

Where Peanuts Grow in America

Peanuts from the U.S. are primarily grown in the south eastern region of the country. Thirteen states grow peanuts commercially and these states are: Georgia, Texas, Alabama, Florida, Virginia, Oklahoma, Missouri, North Carolina, Mississippi, South Carolina, Arkansas and New Mexico.

Georgia grows by far the most peanuts in the U.S. Texas is second to Georgia followed by Alabama. Louisiana is a minor peanut production state for the U.S. Each of these states taking great pride in growing peanuts.

The U.S. is also a top exporter of bulk raw peanuts to the world, boasting both the highest quality and the best taste.

“Peanuts, Get Your Peanuts Here!”

The all American staple has been a patriotic snack for decades, finding a special place among fans of Baseball.

The History Of The American Peanut Industry

The Start of Peanut Domestication by Farming

Peanuts are originally from South America, namely Peru and around the eastern side of the Andes. Native to the Americas, peanuts date way back to 8,500 years ago. The Peanut journey is interesting traveling north to Mexico and into West Indies, where it was cultivated. 

The Spanish and Portuguese eventually ended up finding its way to the North American colonies. Peanuts began growing in more and more places, transforming into a small cash crop in the 1800’s. In the mid-late 1800’s one man would put the face of peanuts firmly on the planet.

George Washington Carver: The Man Behind Peanut Popularity

George Washinton Carver

George Washington Carver was the man who discovered that rotating cotton and peanut crops provide better peanut and cotton growth. His goal being to help the poor farmers of the south.

George Washington Carver found a way to ensure that soil nitrogen levels would regenerate. Following up the peanut growing season with alternate crops such as cotton, changed farming. This crop rotation method was innovative at the time of the late 1860’s.

Carver was born into slavery in Alabama. With much difficulty and hard work he climbed his way into a productive position at Booker T. Washington’s Tuskegee Institute. Most importantly, Carver found workable solutions to end poverty and hunger using peanuts.

His life’s work helped reduce hunger issues in war-torn countries. In the history of the American Peanut Industry, Carver’s work inadvertently created the powerful peanut economy we now have today.

Peanut Butter

He is also famous for inventing the American favorite, peanut butter. Peanut butter was among 300 total innovations that he invented including industrial uses for peanuts. (Read about Peanut Butter here) George Washington Carver created all of these uses on his own.

Peanut butter is by far the most common way that consumers consume peanuts. In America, peanut butter accounts for more than half of the U.S. consumption. Americans also eat peanuts in snacks, candy, and roasted from the shell. Many Americans enjoy boiled and roasted peanuts because of their distinct aroma and taste.

Current Uses in Fighting Hunger Worldwide

Peanut butter has staved hunger for millions of people in need. Many organizations stock supplies of American peanut butter in case of food shortages. It is soft, non-perishable and has highly nutritious qualities. Saving countless African children from hunger.

Peanut butter has become a staple for people of all ages and health conditions. It is one of the most valuable food items that food banks and hunger relief organizations can receive as a donation.

Hungry baby eats peanut butter

The Peanut Industry in the U.S.

As of June 30, 2020 the U.S. peanut industry is healthy and well. Presently, the Department of Agriculture reported 2.4 billion pounds of peanuts in storage within the U.S. This is a little less than last year, but the industry is growing despite the Corona Virus Pandemic.

Georgia is by far the biggest peanut producer in America. They grow more than 2 billion pounds of peanuts a year.  Human hands don’t ever touch Georgia peanuts from growing to processing. Most Georgia peanuts end up in peanut butter. There is a particular type of peanut that is grown in Georgia perfect for making delicious, creamy peanut butter.

Premium Peanut | The Georgia Based Peanut Growing And Processing Company

Premium Peanut is responsible for building the mega 50 million dollar peanut shelling machine. Georgia farmers have built the most innovative peanut shelling machine to date, streamlining Georgia’s peanut processing industry. With the help of a low-interest federal loan, the peanut company was able to build the machine. This build was at the request of Georgia’s peanut farmer conglomerates.

The CEO of the company Premium Peanuts built the machine for the 200 shareholders who grow Georgia peanuts for his company exclusively. The machine uses IT technology such as GPS and state of the art optical sorters. In short, it sees colors and shapes to pick out the best peanuts.

Getting the Peanuts to Consumers

It takes 24 hours to shell peanuts. The peanuts begin by falling through twirling chutes inside a huge, windy machine. Most peanut shelling machines are made by the Georgia based company – Lewis M. Carter Machinery. Similarly, this inventive company also makes other sorters for beans and different kinds of nuts for consumers to enjoy.

Article Written by Dana Witengier