The year we fell in love with peanut butter again

Article adapted from the National Peanut Board

peanut butter and jelly sandwich

Earlier this year, the Toronto Star published an article called, “All hail the triumphant return of the peanut butter sandwich,” in which the author revered the return of the classic PB&J for lunches and snack times – a classic meal that has been shelved in recent years due to allergy concerns in Canadian classrooms and workplaces. As the pandemic disrupted Canadians’ lives, from leaving schools and offices, to staying home for days at a time and stockpiling groceries and other necessities, peanut butter emerged as a go-to pandemic staple. This deliciously, sweet, salty, simple and nutritious spread was in our pantries in a year when we needed comfort, familiarity and health the most.

Consumer trends have shown people turning to foods that are easy to prepare, have long shelf lives, are affordable, and of course, provide comfort, familiarity and safety. Peanut butter delivers on all these fronts. Google Trends, for example, noted a surge in peanut butter-inspired recipes, specifically peanut butter cookies just after the pandemic began. April 2020 alone saw 165,000 searches for “peanut butter cookie recipe.”

Likewise, Smucker’s reported an increased demand for peanut butter in 2020. Although pandemic-stricken Canadians’ desire for simple, comforting foods and ingredients drove much of this demand, other factors including a turn to plant-based protein, natural products and innovative, new foods saw Canadians scouring groceries stores for their favourite PB brands. According to Statista, the volume of peanut butter sales in Canada increased from 56.72 million kilograms to 61.71 million kilograms – a nearly 9% increase – in just a year.

Canadians, especially throughout the pandemic, have renewed their love of peanuts and peanut butter – and data proves it. Consumer data from Erickson Research shows that 60% of Canadians reported heavy peanut butter consumption (at least once per week) in 2020, with overall peanut butter and peanut consumption in households coming in at 94% and 95%, respectively. Most notably, consumer data found that during the COVID‐19 pandemic, peanut and peanut butter consumption increased amongst 17% of Canadians. In other words, in a year driven by change, PB remained a constant for Canadians.

With peanut consumption at a high, brands creating new product innovations, and peanut butter shining as a delicious and convenient source of good nutrition, we can point back to why so many of us over the last year have fallen in love with peanuts and peanut butter again: they meet some of our most basic needs like sustenance; they provide planet-friendly nutrition and protein; and something as simple and delicious as a PB&J sandwich can provide the comfort we need to get through challenging times.


The National Peanut Board, 2021 Erickson Research data