Peanuts and Sustainability

peanut cropGiven the popularity of peanuts and peanut butter amongst Canadians, it’s not surprising that Canada is the largest single country importer of U.S. peanuts. More than 86% of the peanuts consumed in Canada are grown in the United States.

According to a 2024 survey of Canadian consumers, 94% eat peanuts and/or peanut butter, and 58% eat peanut butter at least once per week. Peanut butter is kept on-hand in 85% of Canadian homes, and the average Canadian eats nearly 3 kg of peanuts per year!

  • Peanuts are naturally sustainable. As a nitrogen fixing rotation crop, they replenish soil with the essential nitrogen that’s depleted by other crops. This means that less fertilizer is needed to grow peanuts, as well as the rotation crop, ultimately leading to less greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Peanuts have a light water footprint of only 4.7 gallons per ounce – a result of their specific growing regions, relatively compact size and fruiting underground. Just 35-40% of U.S. peanuts are irrigated because many grow in the southeast and have the benefit of plentiful rain.
  • U.S. peanut farmers have been keen to embrace new technologies that address water-use management, such as low-pressure and Low Energy Precision Application (LEPA) systems, variable rate irrigation and end-gun shutoffs for spigot irrigation.
  • Peanuts require fewer inputs (water, land, etc.) than many other crops.
  • American peanut farmers have always been good stewards of the land, with most living with their families on their farms. Their practices are focused on growing the best crop, with the fewest inputs, because it makes both economic and environmental sense. This also helps ensure the farm will remain in their family for generations to come.
  • New advances in seed breeding are playing a role in sustainability and making it more efficient. As a result, new, more sustainable peanut breeds – particularly those that increase yields without increasing water consumption – can become available for American peanut farmers quicker than ever.

SOURCE: National Peanut Board. Treading Lightly: The Water Footprint of Peanuts. 

No part of an American peanut goes unused:

  • Pelletized peanuts made from the hulls are used for animal feed and fuel
  • Peanut “hay” from discarded vines is used for livestock feed or put back on the land to enrich the soil
  • Emerging uses are being discovered for peanut skins, which contain high levels of antioxidants/polyphenols
  • Biodiesel is produced from peanut oil

APC Sustainability Initiative

The American Peanut Council has set up a task force to measure the U.S. peanut industry’s carbon footprint and other indicators of sustainability throughout the supply chain from farm through processing. The task force will also collaborate on methods to further improve the sustainability of U.S. peanuts and peanut products.

It is the task force’s goal to forge a clear, common understanding of what sustainability means within the peanut industry, and to ensure that various constituencies’ (business, academic, consumer) evaluation of peanut sustainability is based on consistent, sound science and appropriate principles. It also aims to provide industry members with goals, tools and support to incorporate sustainability in their business operations. 

To learn more about peanut sustainability from The National Peanut Board, visit