The coronavirus has created many unexpected challenges this year for the world of sports, and with Major League Baseball fans stuck at home this year, stadiums' highly sought-after, in-shell peanuts have become the latest casualty.
According to the National Peanut Board, 5.4 million bags of in-shell peanuts are sold each season in MLB ballparks, but with no fans in the stadiums, bags of these top-shelf peanuts are sitting in storage, already packaged and shipped, just waiting to be cracked open.
However, National Peanut Board president and CEO Bob Parker told FOX Business that the organization expects peanut farmers to weather the storm.
"Peanut farmers often face adversity and are well adapted to weathering storms," Parker said. "We’re hopeful that by 2021 the world will be making more positive waves in the wake of the pandemic. That said, America’s peanut farmers will continue to remain resourceful and upbeat during these unprecedented times."
He noted that deals for Virginia peanuts for this year's baseball season were grown in 2019, well before the pandemic hit the United States.
While baseball fans can't enjoy the classic tradition of breaking into a bag of in-shell peanuts at the big game, Parker said they can still be purchased at the local grocery store to be enjoyed at home.
"Since people can’t consume peanuts at baseball games right now, we hope that they instead consider purchasing in-shell peanuts from local grocery stores," Parker said. "We are reaching out to consumers via articles, social media, traditional advertising and more to remind them that they can help the situation by buying in-shell peanuts to enjoy at home."
Regardless of when fans return to stadiums, Parker assured that peanut harvesting for next baseball season will continue as planned.
"Peanuts for next year are currently in the ground growing and will be harvested this Fall," Parker said.
Meanwhile, the leftover peanuts will be repurposed for peanut butter, which has seen soaring demand amid the pandemic.
According to data analyzed by the National Peanut Board, peanut butter sales have been a salvation for the industry, surging 75% in March and up 19.5% in April compared to the previous year while peanut snack nuts rose 24% compared to the previous year.